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Experts say people are overreacting to coronavirus; here's why and how to calm down

There is a lot of information being spread about COVID19, or coronavirus. Professionals have tips for staying calm during this busy time.

The coronavirus is something we can't go a single day without hearing about.

Experts said it's causing more panic than it should, consuming some people who are stocking up on supplies and preparing for a quarantine they may never have to experience.

It only takes one person's fears can spark mass panic.

10News went to professionals to learn how to stay calm as the coronavirus spreads.

Dr. Tricia Bruce, a sociologist with the University of Notre Dame, and Melissa Rose, a licensed professional therapist, answer those questions.

Coronavirus is being talked about everywhere— can that be overwhelming?

“Usually, we are better able to hide things that we're afraid of," said Dr. Bruce. "It’s a strategy really to put up a curtain almost to the risks that we face every day. For example, we know that we face risks from car crashes or from the flu or even our own mortality, but we don't think about those all the time so that we can live our day to day life. Now, all of a sudden, there's a fear that we hear about everywhere. And it's a constant reminder that we might need to be afraid. And it makes it, I think for some, potentially paralyzing to do our day to day tasks."

What steps should people take to stay calm during COVID19 coverage?

Rose recommends staying informed. “I think knowledge is power," she said. "I think giving people the facts and reassuring them with numbers."

“Part of what we need right now, I think in a way is reassurance, not denial," said Dr. Bruce. "Yes, there are risks from this and from lots of other things, frankly. But we have to have that sort of collective reassurance that we're okay. You're okay. I'm okay. Tomorrow is coming, and we do our best to mitigate risks and keep moving forward.”

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Is there a mass hysteria surrounding the coronavirus?

"It's a focusing event, right? It's something that, all of a sudden, we're really paying attention to," said Dr. Bruce. "I think there is a level of panic, and it's certainly on a broad scale. So it is mass and there is a level of panic. And I think we're seeing that every single day and I don't think it's going away anytime soon. It’s a scary thing because it's not something that we can track on a radar map. It's not something we can see or smell, it just feels like it's everywhere.”

How does the reaction to the coronavirus compare to previous illness outbreaks like Ebola and swine flu?

“I think that this particular crisis feels both global and national in scale. But there's also a hyper-local focus to it in the sense that everyone's tracking the map," said Dr. Bruce. "It feels personal to everyone, which does make it have that, again, that element of large scale fear."

“It's one of those things that it just evolves and you just kind of have to stay with it,” said Rose. “But there again, just making sure that you're going straight to the source with the CDC versus going from all these different people and hearing from all these different sources.”

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How should we be talking to children about this?

According to Rose, it is important to reassure kids that they are going to be OK. “Kids, and more than anything, they just want to hear that they're going to be OK. They just want to be reassured and they need that reassurance. So, more than anything as a parent just coming to them, seeing what they know, seeing if they have concerns or questions, and helping them fill in those blanks.”

Bruce also suggests keeping your children informed with facts. “With my kids, I tell them what we know and the things that we can do to help protect ourselves against any germ-based things. Germs are real, we can't see them, but they're real. But also to not lead with the fear that this is going to come get them.”

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Is saying ‘don’t panic’ making people panic more?

“Telling people to not panic, it does have like that kind of psychological effect," said Rose. "I think just validating that it can be scary, ad just being right there in the moment with them. The best thing to do in this situation is to stay with the facts because if we get really broad and we start looking at the big picture of the entire world, it does get really overwhelming.”

Have there been too many updates from officials?

“This is a tough one because we want information and we need information. Ignoring something is not going to make facts go away. But on the other hand, if we know so much, and we are reminded again and again of the risk and the fear, then it makes it hard for us to do our day to day tasks because we're thinking about that fear and that risk again," said Dr. Bruce. "This goes back to, there are lots of risks that we think about or that we know exist, but we don't think about them, we ignore them.”

How can we be role models for our children?

“Anxiety is something that can definitely be felt and observed, and kids are going to pick up on that," said Rose. "So if we can model safety and prevention, then they're going to feel safer in that aspect, too.”

If you have any questions about the coronavirus, text 865-637-1010 to receive a list of resources sent straight to your phone.