Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations

How you respond to the COVID-19 outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
  • Children and teens
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs

Ways to support yourself 

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger. 

It’s important to:

  • 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 meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Jigsaw puzzles, acrostics, crossword puzzles, and cards games can be relaxing. Make time for other indoor activities that you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Make use of new resources, including the free COVID Coach app now available from the National Center for PTSD at

Reliable information about COVID-19

To stay healthy and help prevent communication of COVID-19, it’s important to know how to find current, reliable information.

These government resources are updated often:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)


Massachusetts Department of Public Health

State of Rhode Island Department of Health

Further information about stress and COVID-19

The information in this article is based on information in the CDC’s comprehensive, helpful web page at 

Get support if you need it

Mental-health and substance-abuse self-referrals

US Family Health Plan members can self-refer to a US Family Health Plan network mental-health or substance-abuse provider for the first eight outpatient visits in a Plan Year (January 1 through December 31). You must call 1.800.208.9565 to obtain a current list of authorized network providers before accessing the services.