Coping with Stress

Coping with Stress

Diners at an outdoor cafe.

Even as Vermont reopens, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact and influence our daily lives. Many are still recovering from health, financial and other difficulties. Navigating the new norms or rules in our professional and personal lives can be challenging, and our responses to it are diverse.

After a long pause from connecting in person, it is important to be mindful about the impact these hardships have had on us and our communities. While technology helped many of us stay connected, our excitement and anxieties about reconnecting in person may be varied. The Vermont Department of Mental Health has compiled some tips to help us continue on path toward healing our communities together. Find a comprehensive list of resources.

Get the Facts

What we know about COVID-19 continues to evolve, as does the growing evidence about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. The Vermont Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control provide accurate, updated, and easily accessible data-driven information. Media sources sometimes report on COVID-19 with unverifiable evidence or incomplete information that can cause misinformation to spread and have unintended consequences. Being conscious of our social media consumption can help slow the spread of misinformation, and help with our overall mental wellness.

Kindness Matters

The COVID-19 outbreak upended our daily lives and changed nearly every aspect of how we live. As we continue to heal and reintegrate back into society, it is important to be kind to ourselves and others. The stress of the outbreak and the continued trauma are real. It is normal to have anxiety, fear, and pain as things continue to shift. Be kind as we are all rediscovering where to go next.

Self-compassion can help us be more caring to ourselves and others. Activities like journaling, exercise, and eating nourishing food, among others can be useful as we move forward. Even reminding ourselves and others about what our small and large accomplishments this year can positively effect on our wellbeing.

Make Space for Healing

While our worries about the health impacts on COVID-19 are still present, so is the anxiety about how we move forward to this new, anything but normal, reality. Identifying our triggers and specific concerns will help. Each of us may have different comfort and confidence levels. Taking a moment to check-in about how we feel, gives us a chance to build greater awareness. But what can we do to cope? How do we move on with the added burdens of this past year? Are we alone in our experiences of worry? Using simple techniques, and engaging in conversations with others, can help us feel less overwhelmed and more supported.

Experiences Unite Us

By identifying our concerns and talking about our need for support, we can unite with others in this shared experience of grief, uncertainty, and hope for the future. Is there something you like to do and want to share with others? Finding a group to run or garden with can be a fun way to engage safely with others outdoors, while creating space to share our experiences. Not ready to meet in person? Keep using technology to communicate and talk about how we move forward.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Taking time for ourselves is even harder when faced with an emergency and its continued impacts. It may feel like just one more thing to do. But taking a walk, practicing stress reduction techniques, like yoga or mindfulness, or reading a fun book or article can shift our mood. These practices have also been shown to strengthen our immune system.

Build Back Healthy Routines

COVID-19 and concerns about getting sick changed our daily routines. Having our day-to-day practices disrupted or halted for a while can add to our anxiety. Building these routines back up could create another challenge. Starting today, we can create, or reimplement routines that support our well-being. Beginning the day with a walk outside, or a workout, can help us build in time for our own health. Choosing fun evening activities like watching a movie, writing in a journal, playing a musical instrument or a game, and of course, talking with friends and family can help round out a positive routine. Returning to group activities, remaining physically active, and making space for social engagement is key to our continued well-being.

Where to Go with Grief and Loss

Many people are still experiencing grief and loss from the pandemic. Maybe you lost a loved one and were unable to be there when they died. Or you might have been unable to mourn someone’s death in the company of friends and family. Even if you haven’t lost a loved one, some of us have lost jobs, health or time with friends and family. Grief is a natural reaction.

The scope of loss and grief is immense and takes time to process. Feeling grief or living with a general sense of loss may come as a surprise — especially when those feelings don’t go away. The way each of us mourns or expresses feelings of loss is unique. Coupled with these hardships, the sense of renewal and reconnection can feel like a jarring contrast. Being aware of, and communicating about the broad range of emotions that will continue to come up will help us heal together.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses. Learn more about COVID-19 funeral assistance.

Domestic Violence Resources

Did you experience the effects of being isolated with your abuser? Reach out for the help you need. Law enforcement has continued to respond to calls throughout this pandemic. Hotlines and shelters are open. Contact the Vermont Network for more information about your local organization.

  • Vermont Network (link is external)
  • Vermont Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-228-7395
  • Vermont Sexual Violence Hotline: 800-489-7273
  • LGBTQ+ Survivor Support-line: 802-863-0003
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • If you’re unable to speak safely: Log onto thehotline.org (link is external) or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • If you are in an emergency situation: Call 911
Vermont Teens - You Matter

Are you a Vermont teen in distress? Your emotional wellbeing and mental health matter.

During this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, emotional distress and anxiety have increased for many people. Feeling isolated, anxious, confused, overwhelmed or powerless is common. If you are feeling emotional distress related to COVID-19 there are actions you can take for yourself or to help others. Resources are always available to you or your family at this stressful time.

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