The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is here in the United States and more people are getting sick, but the message remains the same: do not panic.  

I'm reminded of the safety briefing on a plane "if the oxygen masks drop down and we lose altitude, put your mask on and stay calm."

Not panicking is easier said than done for many of us.  In fact, it is completely normal to panic when there is fear of catching a potentially deadly virus or fear of your plane going down.

Here are some tips and reminders on how to remain calm and help decrease your panic or anxiety:

  1. Start with grounding.  Find the present moment by looking around at your surroundings. Exercise your five senses; what do you see, smell, hear, touch, feel?  

  2. Listen to the experts.  You're not likely to get the virus, but if you do, you're very likely to have mild or moderate symptoms. Live life as you normally would. Healthcare experts provide these practical tips for prevention against COVID-19 or other viruses:

     - Wash your hand frequently and thoroughly
     - Maintain a 3 foot distance in social situations with anyone who is coughing or sneezing
     - Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
     - Stay home if you are experiencing a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, and seek medical care.

    More advice is available online on the World Health International website:

  3. Talk with others. When something is bothering you, talk about it. Tell your friends or spouse or partner "this virus makes me nervous." Tell them why.  Just talking about it helps.

  4. Be optimistic. Tell yourself, "everything is going to be OK.  Most people are going to be just fine. I'll be fine, too."

  5. Use coping statements. "This is a bad virus, but we are going to be OK. This is temporary. I've been through bad things before and I can get through this. When the fear comes up, I'm going to acknowledge it and let it roll off my shoulder. I can handle it. I can deal with it. This too shall pass."  

  6. Practice good self-care. Eat healthy. Drink water. Exercise. Engage in your hobbies. Socialize. Nurture your spirit.  

If you need additional help dealing with stress, FCH EAP members are encouraged to call us at (800) 777-4114. You can request face to face counseling, virtual counseling, or you can ask to speak with a counselor over the phone 24/7.  

For live updates on the coronavirus, please visit our website at: and enter your company's unique username. After you log in, click on the "News Alert" link highlighted in red at the top.

Our EAP website also offers more trainings on stress, mental health assessments, webinars, health videos and a resilience journey.  

We also offer 25% off the CALM app for self-guided meditation. Call us or visit our website for more details on how to access this.  

Posted In:  EAP Health and Wellness

About Heather Ford

Heather Ford is the Director of First Choice Health Employee Assistance Program. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) with a Masters of Clinical Social Work, and a breadth of experience including inpatient and outpatient mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and juvenile probation. Heather previously served as an active duty military social worker for almost 10 years including a deployment in Iraq.