COVID-19: Resilient Wisconsin

Healthy coping

The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily changed the way we work and live, go to school, and spend time together. Limiting close contact with each other protects everyone’s health, including those who are most vulnerable. It also helps ensure vital health care resources remain available for those who need them. But knowing that change is important doesn’t make it easy. As we all adapt to recent events, it’s natural to feel stress, worry, and even anger.

That’s why learning how to deal with difficulties in healthy ways and bounce back from hardship is key. Scroll down to find practical tools and sources of support that can help you strengthen your resilience during times of stress, so you can take care of yourself and those around you during COVID-19 and beyond.

Recognizing the signs of stress and anxiety

Strong emotions, and even physical reactions, are a natural response to traumatic events like a natural disaster or pandemic. There’s no right or wrong way to feel or act, and your reactions may change over time. That’s why it’s important to understand your responses during stressful events—so that you can better manage what you’re feeling and recognize when you may need the support of a mental health or medical professional.

Stress takes many forms

Look for these common reactions to traumatic events, now and as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

  • Mood swings and intense feelings, including fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, sadness, anger, guilt, and disorientation
  • Denial, detachment or avoidance
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Irritability, strained relationships and conflicts with family, friends and co-workers
  • Changes in your normal sleep or eating patterns
  • Soreness, nausea, head or stomach ache
  • Elevated breathing, heartbeats, and blood pressure
  • Sensitivity to unusual sounds, smells and changes in your environment
  • A worsening of preexisting chronic or mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Research shows that people are resilient. With time and support, we’re able to recover from adversity. It’s OK to ask for help. Remember the challenges you’ve overcome in the past; it’s good to remind yourself of your own ability to bounce back. Just remember that recovery is a process. Give yourself time to adjust, now and after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Print our coloring sheets

Taking time to relax, reflect, and do something fun (like coloring!) can help people of all ages build resiliency. Share a photo of your completed coloring sheet(s) on your social media accounts using #ResilientWisconsin! 

Live Your Best Life (PDF)

Coloring page with a mandala

Unleash Your Inner Strength (PDF)

Coloring page with a dragon

Need a break? It's natural. (PDF)

Coloring page with a fish 

Take Care of Your Whole Self (PDF)

Coloring page with words

Care Goes the Distance (PDF)

Coloring page with bunnies

Learning to manage stress and adapt to change

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. But taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with the changes you’re experiencing. People who have the skills to adapt and bounce back from hardships strengthen the people around them, and help make their community more resilient, too.

Caring for yourself

You’re not being selfish, you’re showing self-interest. Taking the time to protect your own physical and mental health ensures you have the resources to take care of others.

Get the 3 “goods”
That’s good-for-you foods, a good night’s sleep, and a good amount of exercise.

Relax your body
Do what that works for you, like taking deep breaths, stretching and exercising, meditation, and spiritual activities.

Do something you enjoy
Eat a good meal, read, create a playlist of your favorite music, play video games, or talk to family and friends.

Set boundaries
Don’t let the pandemic take over what you read, watch, or talk about. And don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to talk about something else.

Avoid negative outlets
Find healthy ways to process your emotions. Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or risky behaviors.


Apps for mindfulness and well-being

  • Calm: Variety of meditation exercises and relaxing soundtracks organized by topic (stress, anxiety, sleep, focus, etc.).
  • Happify: Science-based activities and games to overcome worries and stress.
  • Headspace: Sets of guided meditations aimed at tackling problems related to stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and relationships.
  • Healthy Minds: Translates neuroscience into tools for everyday life using mindfulness practices and podcast style lessons.
  • Insight Timer: Guided meditation app with a variety of mindfulness and meditation practices targeting stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Recovery Path: Personalized evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies for people struggling with or recovering from substance use.
  • Ten Percent Happier: Large selection of guided meditations and mindfulness practices.
  • Stop, Breathe & Think: Guided meditation and mindfulness.

Staying connected

Trusted, supportive relationships keep us grounded during uncertainty. Whether you send a postcard or a text, you don’t have to be physically close to stay connected.

Tap into technology
Reach out to family and friends, colleagues, and support groups in whatever way you can: calls, email, texting, video chats, etc.

Use social media wisely
Connect with the world outside via social media—but don’t overload on COVID-19 posts, and make sure the sources you follow are credible.

Do remote doctor visits
Many health care providers offer remote care. Ask your primary physician if you can schedule appointments over Skype, FaceTime, or email.

Have lunch long-distance
Keep the standing social appointments in your life. If you have lunch with a family member or friend every week, use technology to keep it up.

Join an online community
Now is the time to make new friends and connect with people who share your hobbies and interests.

Reducing stress

Stress and anxiety can make us spiral. Take the time to discover which coping skills work for you, and practice them every day.

Reduce your risk
Follow all COVID-19 safety measures. Knowing you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy can help you worry less.

Establish a routine
Staying balanced is easier when you build periods of activity and rest into your daily schedule.

Talk it out
Try talking about your experiences and feelings with loved ones, a trusted advisor, or a support group or mental health professional. It can help.

Avoid big decisions when possible
Important decisions are usually stressful in their own right, and can be even harder when you're dealing with a trauma.

Monitor your reactions
Check in with your body and emotions. Know the signs of toxic stress and reach out for help if you feel like you can’t cope.

Last Revised: August 3, 2021

211 Wisconsin

Call 211 or 877-947-2211 to get referrals for thousands of services across Wisconsin. For COVID-19 questions, text COVID to 211-211. Language assistance is available.

Resilient Wisconsin

Get help learning how to manage stress and adapt to change with services and support from organizations across the state.

Helpful resources

Find help with housing, income, food, employment, health care, mental health concerns, safety at home, and more—in multiple languages.