Taking Care of Yourself During Times of Stress and/or Loss

by Claire N. Agard, PhD, CCTP

1. Maintain familiar daily routines, i.e. get out of bed, shower. get dressed. Relax in between periods  of work. Structure can be helpful during times of uncertainty so try to maintain a regular work and  break routine. Chose an activity you find relaxing. Engage in it during breaks (e.g. listening to  music, interacting with family members, etc.). 

2. Get moving, e.g. pushups, dance, use free weights, run/take walks while maintaining social  distancing (if permitted by your local/state government). 

3. Stress/grief takes both an emotional and physical toll. For this reason, it is important to maintain a healthy diet, remain hydrated and get enough sleep. Doing so can strengthen your body and  help it to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of negative emotions. 

4. Keep a journal. When journaling, try to focus on the positive things about your life. Focus on things  for which you’re grateful. As you journal, make note of anything, no matter how small, that  indicates that you are beginning to feel better or deal with the stressful situation better. 

5. Acknowledge and accept your sadness and/or anxiety. Know that sadness, and even anger, are  natural when grieving. Try to keep in mind the fact that grieving is a process. Remember that the  pain will ease with time. 

6. You may not be able to change a highly stressful event, but you can change how you interpret  and respond to it. How you interpret the event can play a significant role in how you feel. It may  be difficult to do so but try to maintain a positive outlook. Know that the current situation and your negative emotions are temporary. 

7. Avoid negative emotional outlets (e.g. alcohol, prescription and/or illegal drugs) as these are  merely temporary fixes. Instead, focus on giving yourself the tools to manage the loss/stress. 

8. Establish and maintain a support system. Here are some suggestions to help you: 

a. Make sure that you have the contact information for friends, family or for anyone else to  whom you feel close. 

b. Stay connected with others using the contact information you have or via free online video  platforms (e.g. FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype). If you’re younger than 18 years  old, obtain your parent’s permission before using any of the platforms mentioned. 

c. Lack of in-person interaction can be challenging since voice and non-verbal behavior  make up a significant part of our interaction with others. Use the video platforms suggested  to have virtual group get-togethers with others, e.g. family members, co-workers, friends,  classmates. 

d. If necessary, get help. Contact SAMSHA Disaster Distress Hotline (800-985-5990). It  provides 24-7, 365-day a year crisis counseling to anyone experiencing emotional distress  related to disasters.

e. Keep and, if necessary, use the telephone number for your state’s crisis/emergency  hotline. Counselors on those lines typically provide support to address a wide range of  situations,  

f. *Find a free online support group. See the below. If you’re under 18 years old, obtain  your parent’s permission before participating in any of the groups listed

Additional support options: 

1. NAMI hosts online communities where people exchange support and encouragement. These  discussion groups can easily be joined by visiting: 

2. Support Group Central: offers virtual support groups on  numerous mental health conditions – free or low-cost. The website is also offered in Spanish. 

3. is a website featuring 200+ online  support groups. 

4. For Like Minds: an online mental health support network. It allows individuals to connect with others who are living with or supporting someone with mental illness,  substance use disorders, and/or stressful life events. 

5. The Trevor Project ( provides social networking and counseling for LBGTQ  youth, their friends and allies. Only those 25 years old and younger can use the service. Live  online and telephone counseling and chatting are provided. To chat: Text START to 678-678. Counselors are available 7 days weekly, 24 hours daily, 365 days a year. Their services include  suicide prevention (Trevor Lifeline 1-866-488-7386). All services are confidential. English only. 


American Psychological Association. (2020). Building your resilience. Retrieved from

Mental Health America. (2020). Bereavement and grief. Retrieved from

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide. Retrieved from Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf 

* does not endorse any of the support groups listed. Links are provided for informational  purposes only. As such, neither nor the writer is recommending or suggesting use of any of the  resources listed. The decision to use/participate in any of the groups is solely that of the reader of this  informational document.


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