Dealing With Stress: Healthy Habits and Resources

Feeling anxious or showing signs of stress is common during stressful times, such as an infectious outbreak like COVID-19. Recognize signs of stress, encourage healthy habits and stress-relief methods, and use appropriate resources when help is needed.1 Start with the methods below. See the chart on the second page for additional resources, especially when a higher-level intervention may be needed. Call 911 in an emergency or if someone appears to be in crisis.

Identify Signs of Stress1




changes in energy or activity level (increase or decrease)

decreased ability to experience pleasure or have fun

increase in alcohol, tobacco use

drug misuse (e.g., opioids, benzos, illicit drugs)


frequent crying or excessive worrying

difficulty concentrating, relaxing, or sleeping

gastrointestinal (e.g., stomachache, diarrhea)

pain (e.g., headaches, joints)

tremors or muscle twitches

chills and/or sweating

loss of appetite or excessive eating

anxious or fearful




heroic, euphoric, or invulnerable

not caring about anything

overwhelmed by sadness


Encourage Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress

  • Stay up to date on what is going on in the world, but avoid overexposure to the news.1
  • Use reputable sources for information (e.g., national organizations, government resources).1
  • Stay connected with friends and family.1 Consider these options when face-to-face visits are not possible: phone calls, video chats, text messages, etc.
  • Get plenty of sleep and practice a healthy lifestyle:1
    • eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water
    • limit alcohol and caffeine intake
    • avoid tobacco and illegal drugs
    • exercise regularly (e.g., walking, running, biking, online fitness classes)
  • Practice relaxation1 (e.g., reading, listening to music, meditation, mindfulness apps [see below]).
  • Consider use of apps and other online support options (see examples below).

Examples of Relaxation or Mindfulness Apps (available for download on Android and iOS)

  • CBT-I Coach: helps with anxiety and insomnia
  • Moodpath: helps with depression and/or anxiety
  • Mindfulness Coach: learn mindfulness and meditation skills to help with depression and anxiety
  • PTSD Coach: helps address trauma
  • Mindshift: helps teens and young adults who have depression or anxiety

Examples of Online Support Options

See the table below for more resources, websites, phone numbers, text lines, etc.

Examples of Available Resources


Website/Phone number/Text info

Other information

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

National Helpline: 800-662-4357

Disaster Distress: 800-985-5990

Text “talkwithus” (English) or “hablanos” (Spanish) to 66746

SAMHSA treatment locator:

SAMHSA link to “psychological first aid:”

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)


Text “nami” to 741741

Offers free, peer-led support group for adults with symptoms of a mental health condition:

Warmline (peer-run support line) directory:

National Suicide Prevention

800-273-8255 (English)

888-628-9454 (Spanish)


National Domestic Violence Hotline


Text “loveis” to 22522

Interactive guide to safety planning:

Crisis Text Line

Text “home” to 741741 (U.S. and Canada)

Can also be accessed via Facebook Messenger

Canadian Mental Health Association and Crisis Services Canada

833-456-4566 (866-277-3553 in QC)

Text “start” or “CSPS” to 45645 (available 4 pm to midnight EST)

Text support is only available in English (not French).

Offers a peer support training program (

Offers tips to respond to employee anxiety (

Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction


Information sheet outlining potential risks from alcohol and cannabis use during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Mental Health First Aid

Offers skills-based training on mental health and substance-use issues.

Access resources (e.g., general mental health, anxiety, depression, substance use) at

Project Leader in preparation of this clinical resource (360503): Beth Bryant, Pharm.D., BCPS, Assistant Editor


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Coping with stress during infectious disease outbreaks. 2014. (Accessed April 15, 2020).

Cite this document as follows: Clinical Resource, Dealing With Stress: Healthy Habits and Resources. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter. May 2020.

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