Managing Coronavirus-Related Stress

On 12 Mar 2020, in stress, mental health

By Cynthia Hovis, MSW, LCSW, SAP, CCTP

The spread of Coronavirus to the U.S. has many people feeling anxious and distressed. This is very normal in times of crisis. You can manage these feelings by taking some simple steps:

  1. Limit media exposure. Today’s 24-hour social media and news cycle can make it difficult to turn away, but research has shown that excess exposure to media coverage of stressful events can negatively impact mental health. Use trusted media outlets to gather the information you need, then turn them off.
  2. Reduce your stress by being prepared. Prevent risk of illness by taking simple steps:
    • Wash your hands.
    • Cover your cough.
    • Increase cleaning.
    • Stay home if you’re sick.
    • Eat healthy foods.
    • Get regular exercise to boost your immune system.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Don’t get your daily news update just before bedtime.
  4. Stay in touch with friends and loved ones and talk with them about your worries.
  5. Keep participating in hobbies and activities that you enjoy.
  6. Practice relaxation activities, i.e. deep breathing, massage, meditation, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation.

Stay vigilant for signs of distress in yourself and family or friends. Here are a few signs of distress:

  • Feeling constant worry or fear
  • Sleeping or eating too little or too much
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Pulling away from people or things at home, work or in daily life
  • Yelling or fighting with family or friends
  • Having negative thoughts you can’t get out of your head
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Thinking of hurting yourself or someone else
  • Turning to drugs or alcohol for escape

If you or a family member is suffering from distress or anxiety that is impacting your home or work life, BJC EAP can help. To schedule an appointment, call 314.747.7490 or 888.505.6444. Virtual care visits are also available; register at

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