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As Stress Levels Rise, Here’s How to Keep Steady During COVID-19 Outbreak



The first step to managing stress and anxiety is to be aware of the signs. Here’s what to look for and how to cope.

By Viwek Bisen, MD, Senior Medical Director 

Fever, cough, shortness of breath. By now, we know the physical symptoms of coronavirus. But we also need to pay attention to and address the mental health symptoms that can come with coping with this outbreak.

Different people will react differently to this situation. The important thing for everyone is to recognize the signs of stress and how it is affecting our health.

Increased worrying, disrupted sleep, difficulty concentrating, overeating and even increased use of alcohol or drugs are common signs of increased stress. These behaviors, in turn, can make chronic health conditions worse and decrease our immunity.

While there is no cure for COVID-19, there are proven ways to alleviate the stress and anxiety that are more present right now:

  • Taking care of your basic needs. Make sure you eat healthy foods, get light exercise, take any necessary medication, and get enough sleep. These behaviors allow us to cope better so we can better take care of others, too.

  • Limiting information overload. Everyone is consuming a lot of media about the virus, but too much information can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on one or two trusted information sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get updates and educate yourself.

  • Connecting socially. Staying isolated is difficult for “social beings” like us. Try picking up the phone and talking to family, friends, people you have not connected with recently and perhaps religious figures in your life about what’s going through your mind, even if that means talking about the outbreak.

If stress leads to intense feelings of sadness or anxiety – especially for those with a history of a mental health disorder – seeking professional help is recommended.

Right now, the first way patients should connect with a mental health care provider is through a virtual visit. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) has waived all out-of-pocket expenses for its members for telemedicine. 

To learn more about managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak, check out these trusted resources:



Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19

Coronavirus & Mental Health: Taking Care of Ourselves During Infectious Disease Outbreaks


For helping children and teens:


Taking Care of your Family during Coronavirus Fact Sheet

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with COVID-19


Click here to download a guide to help Horizon BCBSNJ members access mental health resources during the pandemic.