Coronavirus News Can Cause Anxiety. Here’s How to Manage It.

Woman, with hand on her chin, experiencing anxiety

If the news in recent weeks has made you feel more anxious and fearful than normal, you’re not alone. News – like the news feeds of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus – can take an emotional and psychological toll on us. With the anxiety and stress, you may also experience anger, worry, insomnia and a desire to isolate. It’s also natural to wonder (and worry) if COVID-19 will come to our community and if you are at risk.

While COVID-19 should be taken seriously, there are ways to manage the anxieties and fears surrounding it. For those around Santa Barbara, the first thing to remember is that most people recover well from COVID-19, just as with a cold or flu, without requiring medical care.

“Health care teams at Cottage are working diligently behind the scenes to prepare for changing needs and ensure there are enough supplies and staff to provide ongoing care,” said Darcy Keep, Administrative Director, Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. “This has also historically been the case as there were protocols in place during the international outbreaks and threats of Ebola, SARS and the H1N1 flu.”

The next thing to know is that there are several methods you can use to help manage the increased anxiety and stress during times like these. They include:

  1. Keep things in perspective – Don't panic. Use your judgment to determine your own level of risk based on the number of cases in your immediate area, and your health status.
  2. Take a break from the news, but get the facts – It’s easy to keep checking for updates, but for your own well-being, limit your time with the news and check reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control at and
  3. Do what you can to prepare – Wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Cover a cough or sneeze. Don’t touch eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home if you’re experiencing symptoms like a fever, cough or shortness of breath. Call your healthcare provider for guidance if you experience symptoms.
  4. Take care of yourself – Get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat healthy foods.
  5. Talk to your children – Discuss the news with honest and age-appropriate information.
  6. Stay connected – Maintain your social networks to keep a sense of normality and allow you to express your feelings and relieve stress. If you choose to limit in-person interactions, use technology to keep in touch.
  7. Seek additional help – If you feel overwhelmed or have a lingering sadness or other reactions that effect your job performance or personal relationships, you should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers can help you manage stress and adversity.

Useful Resources

From the American Psychiatric Association: Coronavirus and Mental Health: Taking Care of Ourselves During Infectious Disease Outbreaks. This article has two lists that address how to take care of yourself during an infectious disease epidemic. The first list contains helpful recommendations for patients and their families. The second list provides additional recommendations for health care workers.

From the World Health Organization, a one page infographic: Coping with Stress During the 2019-nCoV Outbreak

From the Wall Street Journal: How to Manage Your Coronavirus Anxiety

From UC San Francisco: Feeling Anxiety About Coronavirus? A Psychologist Offers Tips to Stay Clearheaded

From the National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource

From the blog of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County: 7 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

Reliable Sources of Information

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

California Department of Public Health

John Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center and Covid-19Interactive Map

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