Employee & Family Assistance Program
Tips on Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
What You Should Know
When you hear, read, or watch news about an outbreak of an infectious disease, you may feel anxious and show signs of stress—even when the outbreak affects people far from where you live and you are at low or no risk of getting sick. These signs of stress are normal and may be more likely or pronounced in people with loved ones in parts of the world affected by the outbreak. In the wake of an infectious disease outbreak, monitor your own physical and mental health. Know the signs of stress in yourself and your loved ones. Know how to relieve stress and know when to get help.
Know the Signs of Stress
What follows are behavioral, physical, emotional, and cognitive responses that are all common signs of anxiety and stress. You may notice some of them after you learn about an infectious disease outbreak.
• An increase or decrease in your energy and activity levels
• An increase in your alcohol, tobacco use, or use of illegal drugs
• An increase in irritability, with outbursts of anger and frequent arguing
• Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
• Crying frequently
• Worrying excessively
• Wanting to be alone most of the time
• Blaming other people for everything
• Having difficulty communicating or listening
• Having difficulty giving or accepting help
• Inability to feel pleasure or have fun
Know How to Relieve Stress
You can manage and alleviate your stress by taking time to take care of yourself.
KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
Set limits on how much time you spend reading or watching news about the outbreak. You will want to stay up to date on news of the outbreak, particularly if you have loved ones in places where many people have gotten sick. But make sure to take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control.
GET THE FACTS
Find people and resources you can depend on for accurate health information. Learn from them about the outbreak and how you can protect yourself against illness, if you are at risk. You may turn to your family doctor, local health department, government agencies, or an international organization. Find reliable links to good sources of information about infectious disease outbreaks.
KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY
• Eat healthy foods, and drink water.
• Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
• Do not use tobacco or illegal drugs.
• Get enough sleep and rest.
• Get physical exercise.
USE PRACTICAL WAYS TO RELAX
• Relax your body often by doing things that work for you—take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, wash your face and hands, or engage in pleasurable hobbies.
• Pace yourself between stressful activities and do a fun thing after a hard task.
• Use time off to relax—eat a good meal, read, listen to music, take a bath, or talk to family.
• Talk about your feelings to loved ones and friends often.
Take Good Care of Yourself to Be Able to Take Care of Others. If you need assistance in finding a counselor in Winnipeg or surrounding area, please do not hesitate to contact me and/or check out our website: http://iam140eap.ca/
Your IAMAW EFAP Representative,
Regional Coordinator Employee and Family Assistance Program