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National advice hotline 1800 020 080 For information on coronavirus (COVID-19) call the hotline - open 24 hours, 7 days.

Self-care

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief and worry during and after a major event or pandemic.

Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel.

Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.

Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.

Manage anxiety and stress

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) may be stressful for people.

Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.

Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the 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 coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • children and teens
  • people who are helping with the response to coronavirus (COVID-19), like doctors and other healthcare 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 alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

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.

Things you can do to support yourself

  • 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, and 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.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about coronavirus (COVID-19) from a trusted source and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

When you share accurate information about coronavirus (COVID-19), you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them.

When parents and caregivers deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.

Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • returning to behaviours they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • excessive worry or sadness
  • unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • irritability and “acting out” behaviours in teens
  • poor school performance or avoiding school
  • difficulty with attention and concentration
  • avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • unexplained headaches or body pain
  • use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

There are many things you can do to support your child:

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about coronavirus (COVID-19) in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

For responders

Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) can take an emotional toll on you.

There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

  • Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.
  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising or reading a book.
  • Take a break from media coverage of coronavirus COVID-19.
  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

For people who have been released from quarantine

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) can be stressful, even if you do not get sick.

Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine.

Some feelings include:

  • mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
  • fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • sadness, anger or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
  • guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
  • other emotional or mental health changes.

Get help and support

If you, or someone you care about, feel overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, you can talk to someone.

For 24-hour support, you can call:

For emergency help for a person experiencing a mental health crisis or who needs mental health advice or support:

If you or someone you are with is in imminent danger, call 000.

Get more mental health information or 24-hour support services on the Northern Territory Government website.