It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a crises or disaster. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSAexternal icon) website.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • People with deafness or hearing loss can use their preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.

Take the following steps to cope with a disaster:

  • Take care of your body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Learn more about wellness strategiesexternal icon for mental health.
  • Connect with others– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  • Take breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
  • Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
  • Avoid too much exposure to news– Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
  • Seek help when needed– If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990.

Thumbnail image for PDF download

Look out for these common signs of distress:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

If you experience these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them, seek professional help.

Additional Resources

4 COMMENTS

  1. I certainly have anxiety over the pandemic since I am left with no health insurance, and won’t be able to get insured for Medicare until this December. I have diabetes, plus some other conditions, and I have been doing without insulin, since my husband turned 65, last year, and got Medicare and a Medigap policy, instead of his employer insurance that he carried on me. My husband is insured, my pets are looked after very well, with a briefcase of all their vet records, but there are times I feel like chopped liver, or a second-class citizen. I try to think back to my grandma, and how she just rolled with the tide, never got upset, didn’t go to the doctor period, and even didn’t go to the doctor when she was kicked by their old mule in the barn, and was horribly black, blue, and deep purple all up and down her arm and shoulder, and flat out refused to go to a doctor. She was tender-hearted and
    kind, but oh so tough! I am going to try to be more like my grandma, and quit worrying and griping, if that is possible. Social distancing did not phase my grandma…she was way out in the country with only the whip–o-wills and the lightning bugs to keep her company, pretty much.

  2. Speaking about anxiety due to this deadly virus….maybe mine is from going to watch the movie, Hospital Hell, at the old cinema and brew business, that used to be in Apopka years ago, until it shut down from getting too rough. That movie terrorized me big time! I got ptsd from it, I am certain! LOL

  3. The latest news is now UK’s Boris Johnson has tested positive for the corona virus, plus his health secretary, and his chief medical advisor. Not good!

  4. One great thing out of this shutdown is my cell phone company has upgraded my data to unlimited usage until May 13th….to do their part, so people can keep up with the latest news coming in about this pandemic. That was nice of them!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here