Take a break from the social media and news stories related to COVID-19 and exercise.

The outbreak of COVID-19 can be surreal and stressful for people, especially those who have been identified as at-risk. It’s important to recognize those emotions if you are experiencing them and learn to cope with them in productive ways. Since each person has their own unique backgrounds and challenges, everyone reacts to the stress of this situation differently. Those who may react more strongly to the COVID-19 pandemic include: Elders, individuals with chronic diseases, individuals with behavioral health conditions, first responders, and medical personnel. Left unchecked, these strong emotions can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as excessive fear and worry, changes in sleep patterns, changes in eating patterns, difficulty sleeping, and worsening chronic health problems.

Parents should also be aware of irregular patterns in their child’s behavior. In young children, excessive crying, anger or irritation could be signs of emotional distress. In older children and teens, unexplained headaches or body pains, difficulty concentrating, and avoidance of once enjoyable activities are important things to watch for.

To cope with these feelings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking a break from the social media and news stories related to COVID-19. Individuals coping with major stress related to COVID-19 should also focus on taking care of their bodies by eating well, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Other beneficial activities are participating in enjoyable activities and staying connected with friends and relatives.

According to the World Health Organization, assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper. Helping others to work through negative emotions in a productive way can be just as important as keeping one’s own emotions in check. Checking in with friends, family, and neighbors via phone can be therapeutic and create a sense of solidarity and community, which is extremely important during a crisis. Children should be reassured of their safety and given a safe space for their questions to be answered.

According to the CDC, another great way to be emotionally supportive is to share credible and accurate information about COVID-19 with others. This allows them to combat their fears with helpful information so they can feel more confident moving forward and through this challenge.

During this worldwide pandemic, pay attention to information and advisories released by federal health organizations to receive up-to-date and reliable information.

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