With all the media reports, seeing people wearing masks in public and hearing of new confirmed cases everyday it's not unexpected people are feeling stress and anxiety. We know washing our hands, using hand sanitizer and avoiding large crowds can help minimize our risk of infection, but what can we do to stay calm in the midst of an outbreak?
Many medical doctors and psychologists agree that humans are naturally fearful of the unknown. Take for example, the seasonal influenza. We know it surfaces every year and most of us take extra precautions to prevent ourselves from catching it, but it doesn't send us into a state of extreme anxiety or panic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the 2018-2019 seasonal influenza sickened 35.5 million people with a staggering 34,200 deaths in the US alone. As of 3/8/20, the Coronavirus has sickened 100,000 (+) people with approximately 3,300 deaths worldwide, yet we are seeing and reading so much on the Coronavirus simply because it's a new and unknown virus.
Of course when a new virus appears and the experts we turn to for protection understand very little about it - we get nervous and panic can set in. The chaos we see being created by the new virus makes many people feel powerless and scared. We read daily news articles that our health officials are not sure how quickly it spreads, what the exact incubation timeframe is and if or when a vaccine or treatment will be developed.
Despite the news from our health officials remains uncertain about the virus, many psychologists believe that honesty to the public remains the best policy. In Psychology Today Dr. Bartholomew wrote, " the antidote to fear and uncertainty is transparency and timely, accurate information from reliable sources." My advice would be to stay informed, make sure what you're reading is from a reliable source, and look at the facts.
One can't help but wonder if all the panic we are seeing would be lessened if we lived in a timeframe where we trusted our government?