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How to Stop a Coronavirus Anxiety Spiral

Here’s what you can do to relieve your worries

The past few days have made clear how serious the escalating coronavirus pandemic is for many people in the United States. Schools and workplaces across the country closed, major events were canceled and testing delays made it impossible to confirm how many people were infected. The stock market had its biggest decline in decades, Sarah Palin rapped to “Baby Got Back” dressed in a bear suit—it feels like the world is unraveling. There is so much going on, and so much uncertainty, it is all too easy to get trapped watching cable news or scrolling through Twitter all day.

If all this news is making you feel stressed, you’re far from alone. Many people are sharing their worries online; there’s a whole subreddit devoted to coping with these feelings. Experts say overloading on information about events like the coronavirus outbreak can make you particularly anxious, especially if you’re stuck inside with little to do but keep scrolling on Twitter and Facebook. But you can take steps to mitigate the amount of stress you feel, while still keeping you and your family safe. Reducing anxiety won’t only make this difficult time more bearable, it will help keep you physically healthy and your immune system strong.

Why the Coronavirus Is Uniquely Stressful
“All of our attention is being focused on the threatening aspects of the situation,” said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, where he runs a lab studying emotion and self-control “We’re zoomed in on the potential threat.” Headlines are dominated by places where the pandemic is currently hitting the hardest, like Italy and Washington state. Health authorities are cautioning about the dangers of once mundane activities, like gathering in large groups or shaking hands. As the U.S. rolls out more testing, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is inevitably going to increase.

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