Anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming. You may worry about getting the virus, the length of the pandemic and the future. Learn how to cope.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought many changes to how you live your life, and with it, at times, uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, whether your job will be affected and what the future will bring. Information overload, rumors and misinformation can make your life feel out of control and make it unclear what to do.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. And mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can worsen.
Surveys show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who report symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia during the pandemic, compared with surveys before the pandemic. Some people have increased their use of alcohol or drugs, thinking that can help them cope with their fears about the pandemic. In reality, using these substances can worsen anxiety and depression.
People with substance use disorders, notably those addicted to tobacco or opioids, are likely to have worse outcomes if they get COVID-19. That's because these addictions can harm lung function and weaken the immune system, causing chronic conditions such as heart disease and lung disease, which increase the risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
For all of these reasons, it's important to learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope.
Self-care strategies are good for your mental and physical health and can help you take charge of your life. Take care of your body and your mind and connect with others to benefit your mental health.
Be mindful about your physical health:
Reduce stress triggers:
Build support and strengthen relationships:
Make connections. If you work remotely from home or you need to isolate yourself from others for a period of time due to COVID-19, avoid social isolation. Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone or video chat. If you're working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they're doing and share coping tips. Enjoy virtual socializing and talking to those in your home.
If you're not fully vaccinated, be creative and safe when connecting with others in person, such as going for walks, chatting in the driveway and other outdoor activities, or wearing a mask for indoor activities.
If you are fully vaccinated, you can more safely return to many indoor and outdoor activities you may not have been able to do because of the pandemic, such as gathering with friends and family. However, if you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases in the last week, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public or outdoors in crowded areas or in close contact with unvaccinated people. For unvaccinated people, outdoor activities that allow plenty of space between you and others pose a lower risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus than indoor activities do.
Stigma can make people feel isolated and even abandoned. They may feel depressed, hurt and angry when friends and others in their community avoid them for fear of getting COVID-19.
Stigma harms people's health and well-being in many ways. Stigmatized groups may often be deprived of the resources they need to care for themselves and their families during a pandemic. And people who are worried about being stigmatized may be less likely to get medical care.
People who have experienced stigma related to COVID-19 include people of Asian descent, health care workers, people with COVID-19 and those released from quarantine. People who are stigmatized may be excluded or shunned, treated differently, denied job and educational opportunities, and be targets of verbal, emotional and physical abuse.
You can reduce stigma by:
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. Everyone reacts differently to difficult situations, and it's normal to feel stress and worry during a crisis. But multiple challenges, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, can push you beyond your ability to cope.
Many people may have mental health concerns, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression during this time. And feelings may change over time.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches and pains, or difficulty sleeping or you may struggle to face routine chores.
When these signs and symptoms last for several days in a row, make you miserable and cause problems in your daily life so that you find it hard to carry out normal responsibilities, it's time to ask for help.
Hoping mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. If you have concerns or if you experience worsening of mental health symptoms, ask for help when you need it, and be upfront about how you're doing. To get help you may want to:
If you're feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, seek help. Contact your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Or contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.
You can expect your current strong feelings to fade when the pandemic is over, but stress won't disappear from your life when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Continue these self-care practices to take care of your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life's ongoing challenges.