The pandemic of coronavirus has spread throughout the world in the last 4 months with more than7.7 million cases so far. This pandemic has also brought a lot of fear in the minds of people about going out with the risk of getting infected. This led the governments to implement lockdowns in different countries to prevent people from going outside. Coronavirus spreads through the air as it is air-borne and our breaths can spread this virus into the air and from there to other people’s lungs. Social distancing is required so that people stand at least 6 feet away. All this adds to the fear of contamination and getting infected. The more we come in contact with other people, the more we face the risk of getting the infection. However, the number of people dying through this virus is very low, and mostly old age people who have had some chronic physical illnesses are at greater risk of dying. Still, the fears are rampant and people get different kinds of worries relating to virus. Much of this fear is unrealistic and most of us are totally safe from this virus.

So what makes us scared of this virus if this is not so fatal and deadly as we think? Psychologists say that we generally fear something when there is uncertainty about its occurrence. When we are not sure of certain things in the near future, we tend to make assumptions about its occurrence, and as it is human nature, we make the worst predictions. For example, if you were not able to perform well on an exam, and are concerned about how much you would score, you will see that even just a few seconds before checking the results you were making the worst predictions that you would fail. Although whether you failed or not, that is a different matter, in most cases your fears were due to the worst-case scenarios that your mind assumed and actually thought to be true. 

The same kind of mechanism works when we are dealing with health-related anxieties. Since the fear of contacting coronavirus or its disease is already prevalent everywhere these days, so there is a lot of uncertainty regarding what we should do and what we should not do. In such cases, our brains are always making assumptions and predictions. But since we do not have any accurate information about the actual status of virus spread and its presence around us, our brains generally tend to make the worst predictions because it only wants us to survive. This fear meant to increase the chances of our survival, fuel our thinking and we worry. The more we imagine worst scenarios the more we feel that we are safe, but with a cost. 

Managing coronavirus anxiety is easier than it seems!
Some people who tend to worry a lot already, like those high in neuroticism trait, think about the virus and its impacts most of the time and are not able to relax. Their anxiety shoots up to even greater levels than before because this time the fear is confirmed by those around us. So some justification is already there. These people, if already having a diagnosed anxiety disorder, may become even more worried about their health as well as the health of others around them like family members or friends. This may impact their functioning levels in day to day. These people are generally more prone to worry when they watch any news about the COVID-19 pandemic. They make catastrophic interpretations and react a lot to any new information that they get from news channels. But this habit only increases their worry.

News channels are flooded by lots of information about the ways to control the virus spread as well as its current status in different parts of the country. It has been seen in researches that people who watch these news channels more, tend to have greater fears about their health and consult doctors more during these times. This implies that watching TV news channels about coronavirus may make even those people worried who are less prone to develop anxiety disorders. The habit of watching news channels makes us believe in their content whatever is shown to us, with less critical thinking and more biased perspectives, which leads us into thinking that the information is genuine and reliable. However, the reality is the opposite. Survey results show that 80% of Indians do not trust news channels and consider their information as only a TRP gimmick. These news channels want their viewers to hook on to their content more and more and thus they show information which gives us worries. Because if we are worried we would like to reduce the anxiety and fear by seeking some confirmation and hence we would watch TV news more since we consider it to be reliable and trustworthy. What gave us the worries, would also give the solution. 

Follow social distancing to remain safe, but don't worry too much!

This habit of TV viewing and seeking more information is one of the major roadblocks in managing fears relating to coronavirus. The more information we seek, the more uncertain the world appears to be, the more we become scared.    

Please watch the video below for more explanation and clarity about the corona virus-related worries and anxiety in the Hindi language -

Stay safe, stay calm!