The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
Changes in sleep or eating patterns
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Worsening of chronic health problems
Worsening of mental health conditions

Ways to cope with stress
Take care of your body
♦ Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day.
♦ Participate in regular physical activity. Regular physical activity and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood.
♦ Eat healthy. Avoid loading up on junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress and anxiety. Add whole grains, vegetables (particularly green leaves), fruit, berries, nuts (including almonds), seeds and olive oil to your diet to look after your mental health.
♦ Limit screen time. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone.
♦ Relax and recharge. Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation.

Ways to cope with stress
Take care of your mind

♦ Keep your regular routine. In addition to sticking to a regular bedtime routine, keep consistent times for meals, bathing and getting dressed, work or study schedules, and exercise.
♦ Limit exposure to news media. Constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media can heighten fears about the disease.
♦ Stay busy. Enjoy hobbies that you can do at home, identify a new project or clean out that closet you promised you'd get to.
♦ Focus on positive thoughts. Choose to focus on the positive things in your life, instead of dwelling on how bad you feel.

Ways to cope with stress
Connect with Others

♦ Make connections. Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, or apps.
♦ Do something for others. Find purpose in helping the people around you.
For example, email, text or call to check on your friends, family members and neighbors — especially those who are elderly.
♦ Support a family member or friend. If a family member or friend needs to be isolated for safety reasons or gets sick and needs to be quarantined , come up with ways to stay in contact. This could be through electronic devices or the telephone.

Tips for Parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
Returning to behaviors they have outgrown
(for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
Excessive worry or sadness
Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
Difficulty with attention and concentration
Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

Ways to support your child

♦ Talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
♦ Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or
teen can understand.
♦ Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they
feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can
learn how to cope from you.

♦ Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
♦ Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
♦ Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.