Facts, not fear: How to stay calm with escalating talk of coronavirus

Reporter: Veronica Marshall
Published: Updated:
FGCU Student and Community and Counseling Center

Spreading facts, not fear.

That’s what medical experts are trying to do with COVID-19. Although the risk remains low to most of us, concern about the virus is widespread.

We spoke to a mental health expert for advice on how to stay calm since signs of escalating concern over the virus can be found across Southwest Florida from airports to pharmacies and even coffee shops.

Dr. Alise Bartley with FGCU’s Community Counseling Center says some of those concerns can serve a healthy purpose.

“Some of the anxiety that we’re feeling gives us the chance to take a step back and ask ourselves – are we making good choices? Are we washing our hands as thoroughly as we need to be washing our hands?” Bartley explained.

But, she says, sometimes that concern leads to anxiety becoming an “unhealthy concern – which is anxiety. Our thoughts race, we end up making bad choices, maybe we become more angry because we’d rather be angry than afraid.”

And that’s when she says it’s time to unplug… and find healthy escapes, “I think it’s important when we’re feeling overwhelmed to remove ourselves from the environment we’re presently in. So maybe it is about going for a walk, maybe it’s about watching one of your favorite television shows for a short period of time. Maybe it’s about connecting with somebody else who are those really positive people in your life.”

Another recommendation is to avoid joking about COVID-19.

Dr. Bartley says humor is another defense mechanism we use to avoid uncomfortable feelings instead of working through them.

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