Coping with the stress of social distancing


Seaman Apprentice Molly Crawford/
Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

Social distancing recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now in place across the nation in response to COVID-19. It’s understandable that during this time, people may experience increased anxiety and stress levels as they limit social interactions and spend long stretches of time at home. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently issued a tip sheet with advice and resources to support behavioral health during periods of social distancing or quarantine that result from a disease outbreak.

Ways to Cope

  1. Limit COVID-19 media consumption: Avoid 24/7 watching of news programming for updates on COVID-19 because it may lead to increased anxiety.
  2. Find credible news sources: Constant media reporting during a public health crisis may create impressions of increased risk and danger to people. Look to credible sources issuing guidelines and recommendations, such as the CDC and World Health Organization, which often serve as the primary source for media outlets. Sign up for emergency alerts through local governments.
  3. Use technology to connect with others: Talking with loved ones while in isolation can help reduce levels of anxiety and boredom. In today’s digital age, there are a variety of ways to stay in contact with people, including phone, email, text and social media. Video calling platforms allow face-to-face interactions from the comfort of your home. Playing online games with friends and family can also offer an engaging way to feel connected.

    Graphic by Petty Officer 2nd Class Allen Amani/ Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

  4. Practice self-care: Physical health can play a role in mental health. Take time to relax by stretching, practicing deep-breathing exercises or meditating. Enjoy fun activities. Keep a journal.

Anxiety and fear over personal health or the health of loved ones are typical reactions to a global pandemic. Other feelings can include anger, frustration and boredom over the uncertainty of when life will return to “normal.”

Be aware that in situations of high stress and loneliness, some people may experience symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Anyone experiencing a concerning or significant level of anxiety or stress, or if any of these symptoms last for two or more weeks, should call a health care provider or behavioral health professional.



For more information, including a helpful list of resources and hotlines for military, civilians and dependents, go to home.army.mil/wiesbaden and click the COVID-19 graphic.