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What to do when you’re overwhelmed by coronavirus media coverage

A constant stream of breaking news will only weigh on your mind. Instead, opt to check updates at certain times of the day and turn to only trusted sources.

What to do when you’re overwhelmed by coronavirus media coverage
[Source photos: Daryan Shamkhali/Unsplash; Christian Erfurt/Unsplash]

It’s inevitable to feel a lump in your throat when reading the news these days. “Death! Panic! Danger!,” shout 24/7 headlines surrounding the coronavirus.

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Like many Americans, you may be feeling anxious and stressed. Whether you’re trying not to touch subway poles on your way to work, or are sitting at home worried about how long you’ll have to run your business from your couch, there are many ways to curb your anxiety.

Here’s what to do when the media becomes too much.

Take a break from constant updates

Watching the news cycle on repeat can make you crazy. Everyone knows it, but somehow we can’t stop! Why? First off, this is a new experience. People around the country are grappling with this crisis for the first time, and therefore, there is no rule book around it.

Even if you have to be online to keep your business running, try to turn off noncritical newsfeeds.

We see the government leaders and physicians scrambling to understand the virus’s path and to make decisions that will protect as many people as possible without adding extra chaos. Meanwhile, the media reports everything in real time, so in many ways, we are learning along with the people making our biggest safety decisions. This can be very disconcerting, adding to our fear, which only keeps us further  glued to the TV.

Limit the total time you’re watching the news—just like experts recommend limiting social media use. You won’t miss anything by taking breaks, and now there are text information systems to keep the general population informed about the latest updates surrounding COVID-19, without the hysteria.

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For example, in New York right now, you can get up-to-date information texted to you if any updates or changes occur in the city. Receiving up-to-date information can make people feel more in control of an unprecedented and scary scenario.

Choose your news sources wisely

Some media outlets make money on how many people read their articles and tune into their broadcasts. It’s no wonder panic-inducing headlines are running rampant.

With outlets around the world screaming for attention, headlines get bigger, bolder, and sometimes blown out of proportion. It’s important to look to credible news and government sources for the most accurate and unbiased information surrounding the virus.

Recommended information hubs include sites like the CDC and The World Health Organization. For New York City, the local government provides comprehensive and up to date information for the city. Look to your own state and city government departments for local news and updates.

Don’t distance yourself from loved ones

With many people staying home from work and your social calendar being cancelled, isolation can feel crippling. Make an effort this week to schedule catch-up calls with friends and family both in your city and abroad. Chances are they are feeling overwhelmed as well and would love to hear from you. As an entrepreneur, it’s essential to stay in touch with your network for support.

Today, take a quick break from your phone and news channels and call up a friend. Most likely, you’ll feel much better afterwards.

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This is a time that social media can be a true blessing. In so many ways, social media can be isolating, but when most people are in the same situation, it can be a very connective experience. In a state of crisis, or mass confusion, most people  want to reach out, be honest, and show more vulnerability. They want to feel less alone. In this way, it can be very therapeutic in a way social media has not always been.

Treat yourself with care

It’s normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed when we are inundated with news about the outbreak. Some people are naturally more anxious than others, and as a business owner, you might be feeling completely overwhelmed. Some have also experienced a loss or a trauma, which can all be stirred up in the face of an event in which there is no set precedent. It’s vital that you begin to pay extra attention to your feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. As fear is stored in the body, exercise, yoga, mindfulness exercises, or safe at-home exercise routines are especially helpful in ameliorating the sensations of anxiety as they come up.

It’s important to acknowledge and share your feelings, and treat yourself with special care when you begin to feel anxious and out of control. If you are able, use the extra free time you may have to implement healthy, self-soothing activities such as meditation and prayer, journaling, or any project or activity that makes you feel good. You are not alone in this. It’s more important than ever that we come together in our communities to support those in need at this time. A feeling of connectedness is the ultimate therapy.

With the ambiguity surrounding COVID-19, it’s important to remind yourself that you have access to health care resources, and our leaders and health officials are trying their best contain the virus. By taking these reassurances and tips into consideration, you can put a restless mind at ease.


Arianna O’Dell is the founder of Airlink Marketing, a digital design and marketing agency helping companies create digital programs that drive results. When she’s not working with clients or traveling, you’ll find her making fun gifts at Ideas By Arianna.

Gina Moffa, LCSW, MA, is a psychotherapist with 15 years of experience dealing with grief and loss, as well as situational anxiety and depression. Before having her own practice, Gina was the clinical director of the Addiction Institute of NY at Mt. Sinai- St. Luke’s Hospital. She is now volunteering with medical professionals on the front line of COVID-19.

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