Fear and Coping During the COVID-19 Virus


Relaxed adult man breathing fresh air in a forest with green trees in the background

Fear of the unknown has always been part of our story as human beings. One reason that we are so scared of COVID-19 is there is a lot that we don’t know, which is something that can lead to stress and anxiety. 

Psychologists and public health experts say that the pubic is experiencing high anxiety, and it’s fueled by a feeling of powerlessness.

It’s important to have a way to deal with this anxiety to keep from getting overwhelmed.

“Something like this is new for so many of us, and it calls for us to adapt,” says Psychologist Dr. Jack O’Donnell “To adapt in the best ways that we can so we don’t get overwhelmed by the emotions that it may generate.”

O’Donnell says that during the pandemic, it’s important to take care of ourselves, even if we are not infected, to keep anxiety from building.

“Meditation, if one can get outside, it can alleviate the feeling of being trapped inside the home,” O’Donnell said.  “There’s something about being in the outside air that can be helpful. Prayer, if a person is a person of faith.”

In times like these, we want an escape, but O’Donnell says to that doing something intentional with your time, and not just looking for a distraction is important.

“Distracting ourselves isn’t very helpful. It’s better to do something that would be intentional,” O’Donnell said.  “Whether that’s to reach out to a friend and be supportive and receive support, or other intentional activities.”

Doing something intentional means finding something that you know works and keeps you calm.

O’Donnell says that you can overdo it.

That’s why you see hoarding at the stores for toilet paper and other panic shopping items.

“One of the things that impacts all of us can be related to a sense of helplessness,” O’Donnell said.  “We can’t do anything, so at least that’s something that people feel they can do to protect themselves.”

Things you can do to support yourself

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  • Get Outside and breath the fresh air.  Move your body.

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful..

When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.

If you are feeling emotional distress due to COVID-19, you can call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.

Coronavirus, explained: Everything to know, from symptoms to how to prepare



Center for Disease Control and Prevention
USA Today
KFOR Radio

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