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Family Living Focus: COVID-19: Managing anxiety and stress

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.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

• Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions and might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

• Children and teens.

• People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other healthcare providers or first responders.

• People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use.

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.

• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself

• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

• Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

• Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

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Information adapted from article by CDC.gov in Today’s Caregiver.com Newsletter April 16, 2020 – Issue #1299.

If you would like more information on “COVID-19 Managing Stress and Anxiety” contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.

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