Coping with stress during times of crisis
April 2020   HEALTHCARE

Coping with stress during times of crisis

When going through a time of crisis it is normal to feel anxious, worried, or stressed.
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You may be concerned about yourself, your friends and family, and the crisis situation around the world.

It is important to try not to panic. Panicking can cause further distress, which can make it harder to handle the situation.

Know the signs of stress

The first step in managing stress is recognising it. Stress is characterised by a variety of physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms, and each person can experience and react to stress very differently.

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Stomach aches or diarrhoea
  • Headaches
  • Losing your appetite or eating too much
  • Getting tremors or muscle twitches

Stress can also have emotional symptoms including:

  • Anxiety or fear
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Anger
  • Confusion

Stress can also affect you in other ways, such as causing:

  • An increase or decrease in your energy levels
  • A tendency to use of alcohol, tobacco, or illegal substances
  • Irritability
  • Trouble relaxing or sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive worrying

How to cope with stress

When going through a crisis, try some of the following strategies for relieving stress. The goal is to manage and alleviate your stress and take time to look after yourself.

Avoid the news

Listening to or reading a constant feed of news about the crisis can trigger stress. Set limits on how much time you spend reading or watching the news, or set a specific time to catch up; but don’t do so more than twice a day.

It is important to be informed, but make sure you take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control. Make sure that the news you do get is from trusted sources in order to avoid rumours and misinformation that can cause you unnecessary stress.

Stay healthy

Taking care of your physical health during periods of stress is a key part of self-care and can help you feel less stressed:

  • Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol
  • Do not use tobacco or illegal substances
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay physically active

Take care of your mental health

  • Do activities that relax you – take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, read, listen to music, or take a bath
  • Pace yourself between work shifts and stressful activities
  • Talk to your loved ones often and express your feelings
  • Protect yourself and try to help others wherever possible

See Stress Differently

At Cigna, our work is rooted in our mission to improve the health, well-being and peace of mind of those we serve. Using cutting-edge technology and through our work partnering with doctors, technologists and artists, we have come up with a powerful new way to make the invisible visible. Introducing our stress care initiative - ‘See Stress Differently’.

Take our stress test

Our doctors have devised a short stress test, based on an established industry standard: the Perceived Stress Scale. The test only takes three-minutes to complete and you can take it here.

Be sure to share your test results with us on social media by using the tag #SeeStressDifferently.

For more information about See Stress Differently, please click here.

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Important information about the Coronavirus.  

For more about protecting yourself, avoiding risks, and coverage, view our FAQ

Visit the World Health Organisation website for the latest Coronavirus developments.


Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak. WHO. Published March 2, 2020. Accessed March 17, 2020.

Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published October 2014. Accessed March 17, 2020.

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