United Church of Christ – Wider Church Ministries
Humanitarian Development Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Daily Briefing
Barbara T. Baylor, MPH – Temporary Health Liaison
March 27, 2020 - Issue #5
Stress and Coping During COVID-19
I am ending this week with this short brief on emotional, mental and physical well-being because the stress from the impacts and effects of COVID-19 are real and will be long-lasting.
This has been one of the hardest weeks as cases in the United States climbed higher and higher, making the United States the epicenter in this worldwide pandemic, with more confirmed cases than any other country - more than 86,000, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center - with more than 1,100 deaths.
We have watched with dismay how hospitals in major U.S. cities, beginning with New York and rapidly including other cities, are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, still struggling with shortages of personal protective equipment, beds, ventilators and other essential supplies.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, so do feelings of isolation from physical/social distancing, stress, and anxiety over whether we can get tested and, if we or a family member is diagnosed with the coronavirus, afford treatment. We fear for the safety of ourselves, our families and our communities. We fear that we will not be able to supply basic needs for our loved ones. We fear that we might not be able to pay for needed medications. And so on. Fear grasps us tightly.
Further, the mental and emotional well-being of healthcare workers is in jeopardy. Depression, anxiety and insomnia appear to be common consequences of the high-stress environment faced by healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Doctors and nurses treating coronavirus report high rates of depression and anxiety
The stress precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic is only deepening the high levels of stress already present in our society. Source: The American Institute of Stress
- About 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress
- 77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health
- 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health
- 48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress
The Centers for Disease Control recommend these tips for managing anxiety and stress:
- Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
As the weekend approaches, I encourage you to view and share the resources below and think about ways that we as members of the faith community can mitigate the effects of stress and emotional turmoil on ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our church members.
Psalm 23:4 - Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (NLV)
May the peace of God be with you.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration provides a 24-hour-a-day "Disaster Distress Hotline," crisis counseling to support people experiencing distress during or following a disaster, including those impacted by the novel coronavirus spread. The hotline offers immediate, cost-free and confidential counseling at 800-985-5990. Those who need help can also text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor.