Philadelphia Medicine Spring 2020 - 11

p h i l a m e d s o c .o rg

Coping With Stress During
Infectious Disease Outbreaks

feature

W

hen you hear, read, or watch news
about an outbreak of an infectious
disease such as Coronavirus19,
you may feel anxious and show signs of
stress-even when the outbreak affects
people far from where you live or you are at
low or no risk of getting sick. These signs of
stress are normal.
In the wake of an infectious disease outbreak,
it's important for you to monitor your own
physical and mental health and that of others.
Below are some of the signs of behavioral,
physical, emotional, and cognitive responses
that are all common signs of anxiety and
stress. Know how to relieve stress, and know
when to get help.
BEHAVIORAL:
- An increase or decrease in your energy
and activity levels
- An increase in your alcohol, tobacco
use, or use of illegal drugs
- An increase in irritability, with outbursts of anger and frequent arguing
- Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
- Crying frequently
- Worrying excessively
- Wanting to be alone most of the time
- Blaming other people for everything
- Having difficulty communicating or
listening
- Having difficulty giving or accepting
help
- Inability to feel pleasure or have fun
PHYSICAL:
- Having stomachaches or diarrhea
- Having headaches and other pains
- Losing your appetite or eating too
much
- Sweating or having chills
- Getting tremors or muscle twitches
- Being easily startled
EMOTIONAL:
- Being anxious or fearful
- Feeling depressed

- Feeling guilty
- Feeling angry
- Feeling heroic, euphoric, or
invulnerable
- Not caring about anything
- Feeling overwhelmed by sadness
COGNITIVE:
- Having trouble remembering things
- Feeling confused
- Having trouble thinking clearly and
concentrating
- Having difficulty making decisions

Know How To Relieve Stress
You can manage and alleviate your stress by
taking time to take care of yourself.
KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE:
Set limits on how much time you spend
reading or watching news about the outbreak.
You will want to stay up to date on news of
the outbreak, particularly if you have loved
ones in places where many people have gotten
sick. But make sure to take time away from
the news to focus on things in your life that
are going well and that you can control.
GET THE FACTS:
If desiring more factual information on
the status of the outbreak, find people and
resources you can depend on for accurate
health information, and skip the political
and social media rhetoric. You may turn to
your family doctor, a state or local health
department, U.S. government agencies, or
an international health organization.
KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY:
-Eat healthy foods, and drink water
-Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and
alcohol
-Do not use tobacco or illegal drugs
-Get enough sleep and rest
-Get physical exercise

USE PRACTICAL WAYS TO RELAX:
- Relax your body often by doing things that
work for you-take deep breaths, stretch,
meditate, wash your face and hands, or
engage in pleasurable hobbies
- Pace yourself between stressful activities,
and do a fun thing after a hard task
- Use time off to relax-eat a good meal,
read, listen to music, take a bath, or talk
to family
- Talk about your feelings to loved ones
and friends often
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY,
FEELINGS, AND SPIRIT:
- Recognize and heed early warning signs
of stress
- Recognize how your own past experiences
affect your way of thinking and feeling
about this event, and think of how you
handled your thoughts, emotions, and
behavior around past events
- Know that feeling stressed, depressed,
guilty, or angry is common after an event
like an infectious disease outbreak, even
when it does not directly threaten you
- Connect with others who may be experiencing stress about the outbreak...talk
about your feelings about the outbreak,
share reliable health information, and enjoy
conversation unrelated to the outbreak, to
remind yourselves of the many important
and positive things in your lives
- Take time to renew your spirit through
meditation, prayer, or helping others in
need
You may experience serious distress when
you hear about an infectious disease
outbreak, even if you are at little or no
risk of getting sick. If you or someone
you know shows signs of stress for several
days or weeks, get help by reaching out to
a mental health professional, or accessing
resources through the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA). *

https://www.samhsa.gov
Spring 2020 : Philadelphia Medicine 11


https://www.samhsa.gov

Philadelphia Medicine Spring 2020

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/PCMS_Philadelphia_Medicine/PhiladelphiaMedicine_Spring2020
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/PCMS_Philadelphia_Medicine/PhiladelphiaMedicine_Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/PCMS_Philadelphia_Medicine/PhiladelphiaMedicine_Fall2018
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/PCMS_Philadelphia_Medicine/PhiladelphiaMedicine_Winter2017x
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