illustration of someone being sad in their home due to pandemic

Managing Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic

There are many different reactions and responses that one will have during the Coronavirus outbreak. This could include physical and emotional responses that you might be experiencing for the first time, or with a different intensity than you’ve felt before. In addition to the stressors of employment and beginning a new academic semester, these reactions have the potential to be amplified. As these reactions can impact both you physical and mental health, it’s important to bring awareness to your reactions in order to understand how to cope with them.

Tips for Coping


Stay informed

It’s important to find a balance between staying informed and protecting yourself from the overload of information in the news and media. It may be helpful to set up time limits to check the news (e.g., 1 hour a day) and find non-sensationalizing news sites that are reliable. It’s okay if these limits need to change- perhaps your initial time limit ends up leading to heightened anxiety and could be reduced. Additionally, try to avoid exposing yourself to news during the evening when your brain is winding down for bed.

Be attentive

Pay attention to your internal reactions during this time. As you bring increased awareness to your emotional and physical responses, you can get important information about what you need in order to cope with each feeling or sensation. For example, if you’re noticing your anxiety increasing, it’s important to note what happened right before the increase in anxiety (e.g., looking at the news). You then can decide what choices might decrease your anxiety, like reducing how much time you spend reading news. · WSU Tri-Cities students will soon be able access the Sanvello mobile application for free which provides evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy to address symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Please follow the WSU Tri-Cities Counseling Services page for updates and additional resources over this semester.


Establishing a supportive routine can help both your mind and body during periods of stress. This includes maintaining a consistent schedule for sleeping, eating, moving your body, and socializing. Sticking to a routine can help create a sense of normalcy and control.


Stay connected with your friends and family. Sharing your thoughts and concerns with loved ones can help relieve feelings of stress and isolation. You may be trying new, creative ways of fostering connection, like watching a movie together over Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, having a joint study session, or having dinner while in a video or phone call. Try to widen the topics you’re discussing with your support systems rather than focusing all conversations on the virus.


It’s important to do things regularly and often that are enjoyable and relaxing to keep your overall stress level down. This could be deep breathing, meditations, reading, listening to music, going on a walk, or cooking, among many other things. Activities that are relaxing can look different from person to person. Do what comes most naturally to you for coping in times of stress.


Significant plans might have been changed due to the virus outbreak. Recognizing and accepting that this will have an impact on you and your community is part of the process to help redefine what comes next. This could mean coming up with unique ways to celebrate with friends, staying connected, and starting to let go of previous plans.

Monitor social media

Examine your social media usage. It’s important to be mindful of the amount of social media that you’re consuming and what type of information is being shared on media platforms. Although social media can be in an invaluable way to connect with community, it can also lead to misinformation and increased exposure to the news. Be cautious about checking these sites before bed to help mitigate that risk.

Keep perspective

The coronavirus is a health concern that is being taken seriously by WSU Tri-Cities and public health officials. It’s important to not let your worry about the virus take control of your life. Work on creating new routines and recognize what you can and can’t control.

Extending compassion

Extend compassion to yourself and your community. Remember that COVID-19 doesn’t recognize race, nationality, or ethnicity. Wearing a mask does not mean a person is ill. Disrupt stigma by sharing accurate information, and speak up if you hear, see, or read misinformation, witness or experience harassment or discrimination. Practicing compassion can also help you feel less alone in what you are experiencing. Consider trying a guided meditation to help increase your connection to our common humanity during this difficult time.