Healthy Living During Stressful Times - National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
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Healthy Living During Stressful Times

Stay Home – Stay Safe – Stay Connected – Stay Healthy

How can you stay healthy during uncertain times or when you can’t leave your home? Below are some things you can do to stay healthy.

Manage Stress

How can I manage my stress at home during difficult times?

  • Notice your stress level. Identify and respond to stressful thoughts and emotions
    • Replace “I can’t handle this” with “This is tough and yet I am managing. I am stronger than I think.”, for example.
  • Steady yourself with healthy behaviors such as:
    • Limiting screen time and news
    • Taking a few deep breaths
    • Phoning a friend
  • Use stress reduction tools, for example:
    • Relaxation apps
    • Exercise
    • Doing something you enjoy
  • Stay connected to your support systems (family, friends, mentors, clergy, and fellow Veterans):
    • Be creative - use phone, email, text messaging, video calls
    • Join a social media network that includes service members and Veterans
  • If you feel you’re in an emotional crisis: Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or text 838255. Or chat online at: www.veteranscrisisline.net

For more information visit:
www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Manage_Stress 
www.mentalhealth.va.gov/MENTALHEALTH/coronavirus 


Be Safe

How can I be safe at home during this health emergency?

  • To protect yourself from getting sick at home:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • If you are sick, to protect yourself and others (in addition to above):
    • Stay home except to get medical care- monitor your symptoms- call ahead before visiting your doctor
    • Wear a cloth covering over your nose and mouth
    • Separate yourself from other people and pets
    • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • To protect others in your community:
    • Follow local public health guidance such as:
      • Leave your house only when allowed or for a medical emergency
      • Visit your provider in person only when approved
    • Shop only when needed (delivery and pickup are best)
    • Keep at least six feet from others
    • Use a mask or cloth cover over your nose and mouth

For more information visit: see VA's Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) webpage, the Coronavirus FAQs: What Veterans Need to Know webpage and the CDC website 


Be Involved In Your Health Care

How can I continue to talk with my health care team during this time and still be involved in my care?

To learn more visit the VA Coronavirus FAQ:
https://www.va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions/ 

For more information visit:
www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Be_Involved_in_Your_Health_Care.asp 


Be Physically Active

How can I be physically active when I can’t get out as much as I’d like?

  • If you can go outdoors safely:
    • Take a walk or a hike
    • Ride a bike
    • Do yardwork or gardening
  • If you must stay indoors:
    • Walk briskly or dance to your favorite music
    • Do an exercise video or other virtual activity class
    • Use home exercise machines like a treadmill or stationary bike
    • Do yoga or t’ai chi
    • Do simple strengthening exercises

For more information visit:
www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Be_Physically_Active 


Eat Wisely

How can I maintain a healthy diet when I am stressed or bored?

For more information visit:
www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Eat_Wisely 


Limit Alcohol

How can I limit my drinking? I’m drinking more alcohol since I can’t leave my home.

  • Commit to recommended daily limits (1 drink for women and everyone over age 64; 2 drinks for men under age 65)
  • Think about what is causing your urge to drink and look for other ways to respond to that stress. See Manage Stress resources for ideas
  • Reach out for support if you are having trouble sticking to daily limits.  Talk to friends or your healthcare team or use the Rethinking Your Drinking tools for additional support

For more information visit:
www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Limit_Alcohol 


Sleep Well

How can I sleep better? I am having trouble sleeping due to stress.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule every day and avoid napping
  • Take steps to manage stress, including regular exercise
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and electronic devices before bedtime

For more information, use tools like the Path to Better Sleep:
www.veterantraining.va.gov/insomnia