Coping with Fear and Uncertainty

Tips for coping, normal reactions, ways to respond to uncertainty and fear.

Page updated on Aug 28, 2020 at 2:05 PM

Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty

Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Taking care of yourself, your friends and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger. 

The content of this page is available in an easy to print and distribute flyer (below). We encourage residents to share this and the other resources on this page, especially in communities where languages other than English are primarily spoken, and with vulnerable residents, including those who may not have access to traditional media.

Assistance from a Distance

  • Learn how to access a variety of essential mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic  English  |  Spanish  |  Arabic  |  Amharic.

Recognizing Abuse and Staying Safe

Resources to Meet Basic Needs for Those Impacted by the Coronavirus COVID-19

The City and its partners are working together to provide information and resources that may offer some level of support, security and stability for families in need due to the impacts of the coronavirus:  COVID-19 Resources.

Combating Stigma

Anxiety about the coronavirus COVID-19 can cause fear and hostility towards certain individuals that is hurtful and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. We’re stronger as a community when we stand together against stigma, which can lead to discrimination. Take advantage of this information to prevent, interrupt and respond to stigma.

English  |  Arabic  |  Amharic | Spanish

Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to reduce the stigma around COVID-19.

Tips for Coping

  • Get up-to-date information from the City of Alexandria at 
  • Make sure you have access to media but limit excessive exposure. If feeling anxious, consider turning off social media feeds, automatic notifications and updates on COVID-19.
  • Understand that people have strong, often complex and sometimes divergent points of view. Respect this and recognize that it is an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to building our community. 
  • Identify the feelings you are experiencing. Understand that your feelings are normal and talk about them with others.  
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Personal relationships are crucial in maintaining perspective, elevating mood and allowing distraction away from concerns that trouble us. Combat loneliness and keep talking by phone or video chat.
  • Stay healthy by sleeping regularly, eating right, avoiding alcohol and other drugs, exercising, relaxing and doing things you enjoy.
  • Maintain a routine.
  • Remember that people react in different ways.
  • Laugh, have fun and let yourself cry.
  • Ask for help if it gets to be too much.
  • Try not to judge yourself and others.

Normal Reactions to Fear and Uncertainty

  •  Anxiety, increased worry 
  • Not wanting to be separated from loved ones 
  • Irritability, anger 
  • Fatigue, exhaustion 
  • Sadness, crying 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Frequent errors
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Physical complaints, diarrhea
  • Nightmares
  • New or increased use of tobacco products, alcohol or other drug

Deep Breathing

At times of stress and anxiety, shallow breathing or hyperventilation are common. Mindful, regular breathing can reset the normal stress response and prevent or reverse the onset of the unpleasant physical symptoms associated with anxiety.

This is also true for exercise, which can help reduce the excess adrenaline build-up associated with anxiety. It can also give much needed perspective.

To practice deep breathing, take a slow deep breath through your nose to the count of five. Hold your breath for another 5-count then exhale through your mouth for a 5-count.

Anti-Stress Stretches

Finger Fan: Extend your arms straight out in front of you with palms up. Spread your fingers as far apart as possible and hold for 5 seconds.

Upper-back Stretch: Sit up straight with your fingers inter-laced behind your head. Keep your shoulders down, lift your chest and bring your elbows back as far as you can. Hold for 10 seconds.

Ear to Shoulder: Lower your right ear to your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead Reach: Raise your arms over your head and interlace your fingers with your palms facing up. Keep your shoulders down and stretch upwards. Hold for 20 seconds.

Knee Pull: While seated, pull one knee up to your chest as high as possible. Hold with both hands for 10 seconds then repeat the other knee.

Waist Bend: Reach arms overhead with finger interlaced. Keep shoulders down and bend to one side at the waist. Hold for 20 seconds then repeat on the other side.

Crisis Information

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call or text 24/7:

PRS CrisisLink Hotline 703.527.4077 or Text "connect" to 855-11
TTY, please dial 7-1-1

Department of Community and Human Services Emergency Services 703.746.3401.