Everyone who experiences a disaster like the coronavirus pandemic is affected in some way. Grief and stress are common. Fortunately, most people are resilient, and we can draw on our individual and collective resilience to get through this pandemic together.

One important step in dealing with the stress that comes with the pandemic is recognizing common reactions. You and the people around you may be experiencing any of the following reactions at different levels of intensity:

Physical Reactions

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Headaches, aches, and pains
  • Weight change
  • Sweating or chills
  • Tremors or muscle twitching
  • Clumsiness, increased accidents
  • Increased reactivity to stimuli such as sound and light (e.g. being easily startled)
  • Chronic fatigue or sleep disturbances
  • Immune system disorders
  • Sexual dysfunction

Emotional Reactions

  • Feelings of heroism, euphoria or invulnerability
  • Denial
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Apathy
  • Grief

Cognitive Reactions

  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty setting priorities or making decisions
  • Loss of objectivity
  • Recurring dreams, nightmares or flashbacks
  • Preoccupation with disaster

Behavioral Reactions

  • Change in activity level
  • Alcohol and drug use or abuse
  • Increased use of over-the-counter medications
  • Difficulty communicating or listening
  • Irritability, anger, or frequent arguments
  • Declining job performance
  • Frequent crying
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoidance of triggering places or activities

Note: We can experience positive reactions, too. You might feel more alert or feel challenged to act. We can see more unselfish and helping behavior in the face of disaster, too. That is good news!

What can I do about my disaster stress?

Because this pandemic is not a single event and is unfolding during a longer period of time, you and the people around you may experience different disaster stress reactions over time.

No matter what you are experiencing, if you are in distress, Show Me Hope is here to help. This program is free and anonymous, and it’s available to anyone in the state of Missouri.

To connect with a crisis counselor, call 1-800-985-5990 (TTY 1-800-846-8517) or text TalkWithUs to 66746. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also find out more about Show Me Hope by reading our FAQ page, visiting the Missouri Show Me Hope website, or following us on our Facebook page. We have many more tips and resources to share as we all get through this pandemic together.


(Source: CCP Core Training Workbook)