As news of a distant outbreak can cause waves of anxiety and stress, it’s essential to remember that these feelings are completely normal—especially if you have loved ones close to the affected area.
Everyone around the world is likely to experience some degree of worry–regardless if they themselves are at risk. During an infectious disease outbreak, caring for your physical and mental health may help you cope with such difficult circumstances. Additionally, reach out in kindness during times like this as even just a few comforting words could make all the difference in someone’s day.
What you can do to help cope with emotional distress
Manage your stress
- Stay informed. Refer to credible sources for updates on the local situation.
- Stay focused on your personal strengths.
- Maintain a routine.
- Make time to relax and rest.
Be informed and inform your family
- Become familiar with local medical and mental health resources in your community.
- Avoid sharing unconfirmed news about the infectious disease to avoid creating unnecessary fear and panic.
- Give honest age-appropriate information to children and remember to stay calm; children often feel what you feel.
Connect with your community online or through the phone
- Keep contact with family and friends through social messaging or through phone calls
- Join community and/or faith group online chat groups
- Accept help from family, friends, co-workers and clergy.
- Reach out to neighbors and friends with special needs who may need your help.
Reach out and help while maintaining necessary social distancing guidelines
- If you know someone affected by the outbreak, call them to see how they are doing, and remember to keep their confidentiality.
- Consider an act of kindness for those who have been asked to practice social distancing, such as having a meal delivered
- Avoid blaming anyone or assuming someone has the disease because of the way they look or where they or their families come from.
- An infectious disease is not connected to any racial or ethnic group; speak up in kindness when you hear false rumors or negative stereotypes that foster racism and xenophobia.
Consider seeking professional help if you or a loved one is having difficulty coping.