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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Necessary public health behaviors, like social distancing and avoiding gatherings, are critical in keeping people safe and reducing the spread of COVID, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely, and can increase stress and anxiety.

The CDC lists a number of emotions and issues people may be feeling:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical symptoms, like headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please know that it’s natural, and you are not alone. Many people—students, faculty, and staff—are experiencing at least one of these symptoms during the pandemic.

Here are things the CDC recommends you can do to help yourself, others, and your community to manage stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, TV, and computer screens for a while.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.  
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get fresh air.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and substance use.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Make time to unwind and relax. Do activities that you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, outside while masked and six feet apart, and by phone or email to talk with people you trust about how you’re feeling, and to ask how they’re feeling, too.

The CDC recommends that if stress is getting in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, you should reach out for help. You can contact WPI’s Student Development & Counseling Center by calling 508-831-5540 or by emailing sdcc@wpi.edu. Your conversations with SDCC are confidential.

During times of extreme stress, people may have thoughts of suicide. Suicide is preventable and help is available to you. More about the risk of suicide, signs to watch for, and how to respond if you notice these signs in yourself, a friend or a loved one, can be found here. You also can contact the WPI Student Development & Counseling Center by calling 508-831-5540 or by emailing sdcc@wpi.edu. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 800-273-8255. And the Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741.

If you are in crisis, get immediate help: Call 911 if you’re off campus, or call WPI Campus Police at 508-831-5555 if you’re on campus.