Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Addressing emotional responses to threat of Coronavirus

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathleen A. Myhre, 446th Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, meditates outside the 446th Airlift Wing Headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Feb. 12, 2020. Myhre traveled to India in 2016 to study to become an internationally-certified yoga instructor. She now shares her holistic training with Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom) U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathleen A. Myhre, 446th Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, meditates outside the 446th Airlift Wing Headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Feb. 12, 2020. Myhre traveled to India in 2016 to study to become an internationally-certified yoga instructor. She now shares her holistic training with Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Physical Fitness | Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

While in graduate school, I was involved with some interesting research that examined students’ reactions to media coverage on the potential threat of a disease pandemic such as coronavirus. The study showed several interesting findings, including high rates of worry that family members would contract the disease or that treatment might not be available. We also found that negative emotions associated with an outbreak (such as worry, fear, or hostility) might result in ignoring precautions rather than taking positive actions to decrease risk of infection.

With mounting worry and fear about the current outbreak of coronavirus, it’s worth taking a pause to look at how to mitigate some of the emotional and behavioral effects that might come from media coverage and the threat of coronavirus.

Stay home if you’re sick – and even if you’re not. If you’re feeling sick, be responsible and isolate yourself at home. This will be a great opportunity to binge watch your favorite series. We all want to preserve our paid time off, but a few unproductive hours being sick at work likely won’t be worth potentially sharing a virus with your coworkers. Even if you’re feeling healthy, medical professionals recommend staying home and limiting social contact as much as possible since avoiding those who are sick is the best way to decrease transmission of viruses.

Coping with Isolation. In most of the country, school has been cancelled, religious services have been curtailed, and recreational venues have been closed. The result for many has been a sense of isolation and feeling cut off from friends, family, and coworkers. The most important way to cope with this type of isolation is to re-establish and stick to a regular routine. Even if you are “stuck” at home, you can establish a regular schedule for activities, such as routine chores, reading a book, or exercise. Kids in particular benefit from a consistent schedule, to include time set aside for learning activities and a regular bedtime.

Limit media exposure. During events such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and pandemics, the 24-hour news cycle can create significant anxiety and pull attention away from consistent day-to-day tasks. The best option for news updates is to find a reliable source, and check it on a limited schedule.

Control what you can. Consistently practicing good habits is one of the best ways to deal with worry and anxiety. The most effective ways to decrease coronavirus risk are the things you learned as a child: 1) Wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap (if you sing the “happy birthday” song while you do it, then you are washing long enough); 2) Prevent spreading viruses by coughing into the crook of your elbow; 3) Decrease likelihood of contracting a virus by not touching your face. Focusing on these basics will give you a better sense of control over your risk of infection.

Decreasing anxiety in others. During the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, I had small children who had risk of infection. Rather than anxiously chasing them around with a bottle of hand sanitizer, my wife and I made a game of making pig noises with the kids while practicing good hand washing. This ensured that we were creating good habits without focusing on the anxiety of our kids getting sick.

What’s with the facemask? One of the interesting effects of anxiety about coronavirus has been buying and wearing surgical masks. Although these might seem like a tangible and visible step to decrease risk, these masks won’t actually prevent you from catching the disease. The intent of a surgical mask is to keep the person wearing the mask (such as your surgeon or dentist) from infecting other people. The only time you should wear a mask is if you are already sick and you want to decrease the likelihood that you will get other people sick. You also can increase your risk of infection if you are frequently touching your face to adjust an ill-fitting mask.

Get your info from reputable sources. Seeking information is a common way to cope with fearful situations. However, anxiety about the coronavirus has led to a lot of absurd myths being perpetuated from less-reputable sources. Any promises of a miracle cure for coronavirus involving essential oils, household chemicals, or herbal concoctions are inaccurate and frequently harmful. If you are worried about coronavirus and need more information, stick to these reputable sources with a scientific basis:

Manage your anxiety symptoms. If after taking the steps above anxiety is still interfering with your daily activities, practice these tips from the Real Warriors Campaign to help manage symptoms:

  • Prioritize sleep and aim to get seven to eight hours each night.
  • Get active to boost your mood, reduce stress, and help improve your quality of sleep.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol which can reduce feelings of anxiety in the moment but increase fatigue and anxiety the next day.
  • Reflect and relax by practicing breathing and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, or writing down your thoughts in a journal.

Dr. Hoyt is a former Army psychologist who is chief of Psychological Health Promotion and supervisor of the Combat and Operational Stress Control mission at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence.

You also may be interested in...

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 07 - July 2021

Report
7/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Long-acting reversible contraceptive use, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Oral cavity and pharynx cancers, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2019; The evolution of military health surveillance reporting: a historical review.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 06 - June 2021

Report
6/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: The cost of lower extremity fractures among active duty U.S. Army soldiers, 2017; Early identification of SARS-CoV-2 emergence in the Department of Defense via retrospective analysis of 2019–2020 upper respiratory illness samples; Brief report: Medical encounters for snakebite envenomation, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Department of Defense mid-season vaccine effectiveness estimates for the 2019–2020 influenza season.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 05 - May 2021

Report
5/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 04 - April 2021

Report
4/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Disparities in COVID-19 vaccine initiation and completion among active component service members and healthcare personnel, 11 December 2020–12 March 2021; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005–2020; Skin and soft tissue infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2016–September 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 03 - March 2021

Report
3/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Influenza surveillance trends and influenza vaccine effectiveness among Department of Defense beneficiaries during the 2019–2020 influenza season; Influenza outbreak during Exercise Talisman Sabre, Queensland, Australia, July 2019; Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2020; A retrospective cohort study of blood lead levels among special operations forces soldiers exposed to lead at a firing range in Germany.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 02 - February 2021

Report
2/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Historical perspective: The evolution of post-exposure prophylaxis for vivax malaria since the Korean War; Surveillance for vector-borne diseases among active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 01 - January 2021

Report
1/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Attrition rates and incidence of mental health disorders in an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cohort, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD medication treatment in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Exertional rhabdomyolysis and sickle cell trait status in the U.S. Air Force, January 2009–December 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 12 - December 2020

Report
12/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cases of coronavirus disease 2019 and comorbidities among Military Health System beneficiaries, 1 January 2020 through 30 September 2020; Characteristics of U.S. Army beneficiary cases of COVID-19 in Europe, 12 March 2020–17 April 2020; Air evacuation of service members for COVID-19 in U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command from 11 March 2020 through 30 September 2020; SARS-CoV-2 and influenza coinfection in a deployed military setting— Two case reports.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 11 - November 2020

Report
11/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Acute respiratory infections among active component service members who use combustible tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes/vaping products, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018–2019; Fibromyalgia: Prevalence and burden of disease among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2015–June 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 10 - October 2020

Report
10/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Characterizing the contribution of chronic pain diagnoses to the neurologic burden of disease, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces healthcare workers, August 2015–April 2020; Acute and chronic pancreatitis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 9 - September 2020

Report
9/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2015–June 2020; Incidence of inguinal hernia and repair procedures and rate of subsequent pain diagnoses, active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019; Surveillance of spotted fever rickettsioses at Army installations in the U.S. Central and Atlantic regions, 2012–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 8 - August 2020

Report
8/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The limited role of vaccines in the prevention of acute gastroenteritis; Diarrhea and associated illness characteristics and risk factors among British active duty service members at Askari Storm training exercise, Nanyuki, Kenya, January–June 2014; Surveillance snapshot: Norovirus outbreaks in military forces, 2015–2019; Update: Incidence of acute gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 7 - July 2020

Report
7/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hearing conservation measures of effectiveness across the Department of Defense; Alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and co-occurring injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Cervical cancer screening among U.S. military service women in the Millennium Cohort Study, 2003–2015; Epidemiology of functional neurological disorder, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 6 - June 2020

Report
6/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Letter to the editor: G6PD deficiency in the Tafenoquine era; Summary of the 2018–2019 influenza season among Department of Defense service members and other beneficiaries; Brief report: Direct care cost of heat illness to the Army, 2016–2018; Animal-related injuries in veterinary services personnel, U.S. Army, 2001–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 5 - May 2020

Report
5/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2019; Prevalence of selected underlying health conditions among active component Army service members with coronavirus disease 2019, 11 February–6 April 2020; Early use of ICD-10-CM code “U07.1, COVID-19” to identify 2019 novel coronavirus cases in Military Health System administrative data.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 19

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.