Stress during COVID

  • Published
  • By Ms. Mary Arnold, 301st Fighter Wing director of psychological health

We have seen a lot of change with COVID-19… social distancing, teleworking, virtual school, increased work load, and so much loss including jobs, family, friends, and even our favorite pastimes.  As a result, many people are experiencing high levels of stress. 

Prolonged stress is not good for us.  It can lead to fear and worry about health or finances.  Stress can affect eating and sleeping, concentration, health conditions, and mental health.  It can also lead to increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances. 

Everyone responds differently to stress.  This can depend on your background, social support system, financial situation, health and emotional background, and the community you live in along with other factors.   Some people are at a higher risk of responding to COVID specific stressors more strongly.  Some of these people include:

  • Those at higher risk for severe illness (older adults and those with underlying medical conditions)
  • Children and teens
  • Caretakers
  • Frontline workers
  • Essential workers
  • Those with existing mental health conditions
  • Those experiencing major changes to their employment
  • Those who live alone or are socially isolated

Taking care of friends and family can be a stress reliever.  It helps us to temporarily separate from our own stressors and often times shows us that things aren’t as bad as they seem.  But care for others should always be balanced with care for yourself!

  • Know what to do if you get sick.  Always contact a healthcare professional.
  • Know where to go if you need someone to talk to.  The Director of Psychological Health, Chaplains, Military OneSource, and Civilian Employee Assistance Program are all great places to start.
  • Take breaks from the news.  This includes watching, reading, and listening to news stories and social media.  Repeatedly hearing about all of the things going on can be upsetting and increase your stress levels.
  • Take care of your body. 
    • Deep breathing or meditation
    • Healthy, balanced meals
    • Regular exercise
    • Sleep!
  • Participate in activities that you enjoy (hobbies, TV, reading)
  • Connect with others through texts, phone, group video chat platforms or any other of the many social media apps

Here are a few resources to get help in a crisis:

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 for Military)
  • 301 FW Director of Psychological Health: 1-682-888-6340
  • 301 FW Chaplains: 1-682-265-0358
  • Military OneSource: 1-800-342-9647
  • Civilian EAP: 1-866-580-9078

For more CDC guidance, information and anxiety managing techniques: