Managing Stress and Coping During COVID-19

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

Brigham Health's Department of Psychiatry has compiled the following tips based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are available below and can also be printed as PDFs in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Russian and Cape Verdean.

Tips for Coping with COVID-19

Caring for Yourself and Others During COVID-19

What are common reactions to COVID-19?

  • Concern about protecting yourself and your family members
  • Concern that medical care or community services may be disrupted
  • Feeling isolated, sad, or scared
  • Increased levels of stress

What can I do to support my loved ones?

Check in with your loved ones often. Virtual communication, as listed below, can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Consider connecting with loved ones by:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Mailing letters or cards
  • Text messages
  • Video chat
  • Social media

How can I help keep my loved ones safe?

  • Know what medications your loved one is taking. Try to help them have a 4-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications. and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
  • Monitor other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food (canned foods, dried beans, pasta) to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Do not visit family or friends who are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Use virtual communication to keep in touch to support your loved one and keep them safe.

Caring for a loved one can take an emotional toll, especially during an outbreak like COVID-19. Remember it’s important to take care of yourself too.

Managing Stress and Coping During COVID-19

Stress during a disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your 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 and other potentially harmful activities

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Some people may react more strongly than others. 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.

Ways to cope with stress

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
    • Take deep breaths, stretch.
    • Try to eat healthy meals.
    • Try to exercise and get plenty of sleep.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Try to do activities you enjoy.
  • Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Need help? Know someone who does?

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others:

  • Call 911
  • Call the Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Call Massachusetts Domestic Violence Resources 1-877-785-2020 or TTY 1-877-521-2601
  • Call Brigham Health Domestic Violence Advocates (Passageways) 617-732-8753
  • Call Massachusetts Mental Health Emergency/Crisis Services 1-877-382-1609
  • Call or text Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-877-870-HOPE (4673)


Safety from Violence at Home and in the Community

We know that violence still happens and may even increase during this pandemic. Free and confidential services are available. 

Passageway is a free, confidential and voluntary program offered at Brigham Health to any person experiencing control, abuse or safety concerns from an intimate partner or family member. Experienced advocates are available to offer counseling, support, advocacy, information and safety planning in English and Spanish. To reach an advocate, please call 617-732-8753 and leave a message. An advocate will return your call within 24 hours.

You can also visit the Passageway website here.

If you need to speak to someone immediately, the following hotlines are available 24/7:

Boston Neighborhood Trauma Team

The Boston Neighborhood Trauma Team (NTT) offer the following services for individuals, families, and communities impacted by community violence:

  • Access to support hotline 24/7 365 days a year (617-431-0125)
  • Immediate support services for any individual impacted by community violence
  • Referral to ongoing behavioral health services for individuals and families
Support is available to ALL residents who feel impacted by community violence.

You can access these services by calling the hotline for immediate support or by calling a Neighborhood Trauma Team. All services are free and private.

Printable Versions of Tips

Caring for Yourself and Others During COVID-19

Managing Stress and Coping During COVID-19

Safety from Violence at Home and in the Community

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