A quick Google search for “coronavirus” throws about 212,000,000 results back at you. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, news outlets are talking about the coronavirus. And with good reason, since the World Health Organization just declared it a public health emergency of international concern. While these are valid reasons to worry, people everywhere are reporting irrational anxiety attacks and fear even to go outside, afraid they might catch the infamous virus. Are news outlets taking it too far?
What We Know So Far
The coronavirus is a pneumonia-like virus that originated in Wuhan, China. So far, at this writing, close to 110,029 people have been infected, and around 3,817 have died. Keep in mind, that numbers continue to get updated by WHO. That’s about 3.4 percent of the cases ending in fatality. Most other cases have made full recoveries. According to Chinese officials, those who’ve died were elderly or, unfortunately, had an ailment that compromised their immune system.
The symptoms vary, but in most cases resemble the common flu. Watch for signs such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
Most severe cases or those seen in the elderly include:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
- Kidney failure
Are Face Masks Worth It?
During every pandemic situation, especially those dealing with respiratory health, people flock to their local stores and stock up on face masks. So much, that retailers in the US and online are running out of antiviral face masks. Unfortunately, there’s little to no information or evidence on the efficacy of face masks in preventing diseases. Face masks, such as the N95, can protect health care workers as they care for infected patients. But, for the general public, lightweight disposable surgical masks don’t do much difference.
Should I Avoid Buying Products?
No. Researchers need to learn more about the virus to know how it infects people. As of this writing, researchers believe COVID-19, just like other viruses doesn’t stay alive on surfaces for very long. So, it’s unlikely that you’ll catch Coronavirus from receiving products shipped from China, which have been in transit for days, if not weeks.
The Spread of Panic and Anxiety
When something is unknown, feeling fear and anxiety is normal and understandable. Psychological research proves that new threats increase anxiety levels more than familiar risks. For example, your chances of dying of heart disease are about 1 in 7, whereas your chances of dying at the hands of a terrorist attack are 1 in over 45,000. But, according to research, the latter ranks among the top five worries for Americans.
Many other diseases are deadly, take the annual flu, for example. But we don’t panic about it because we expect it, we have an idea of how it will play out every year. While some anxiety and fear are healthy to make sure people take precautions, focusing on it too much, to the point it disrupts daily life, is unnecessary.
How to Calm Your Coronavirus-Induced Anxiety
First, realize that it’s reasonable to be anxious about this news. Even if you’re in a city that hasn’t had a confirmed coronavirus case, your anxiousness is expected. The media needs to create buzz and sound the alarms to make sure people do take the right precautions.
Change your perspective: Driving your car exposes you to the risk of being involved in a deadly accident. But you don’t think about those things. Those are acceptable risks we decide to take every day. Use this same coping strategy for pandemic alerts like this one.
Limit your news exposure: If reading all the news about the coronavirus only increases your anxiety levels, cut down on the media. When something is always evolving, it can be easy to read inaccurate information that can hike up your panic attacks. Stay informed, but don’t be hyper-focused about it.
Practice self-care: This might sound silly, but taking care of your mind and body can help. Exercising, doing things you enjoy, trying meditation, and other mindfulness practices can help bring those anxiety levels down. Not to mention, they help you stay away from those news alerts.
5 Ways to Stay Safe
Additionally, keep in mind these recommended healthy tips to stay safe. Even if your city doesn’t have a coronavirus alert, these safety tips will help you remain safe from a wide range of illnesses.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing with your elbows or tissue – wash your hands immediately after.
- Avoid contact with anyone who has a fever or a cough.
- Avert unprotected contact with live animals or any surface in contact with the animals.
- Avoid consumption of any raw or undercooked animal product.
Remember, when chaos is circling your life, take a step back, and readjust your perspective. Take care of yourself first, physically, mentally, and spiritually to help you remain calm. If you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please avoid any contact with others and seek medical care early to put to rest any connection to the coronavirus.