LU professor offers tips to overcome COVID-19 anxiety

Dr. Mara Aruguete, Psychology professor at Lincoln University

Fear of the unknown is fueling anxiety about COVID-19.  

Lincoln University Psychology professor, Dr. Mara Aruguete, says it's a natural reaction to fear what we don't fully understand.

"The flu and colds are kind of a known thing.  People are familiar with them.  They've grown up with them all their lives.  There's a lot of uncertainty about the coronavirus in terms of things like asymptomatic transmission.  What that means is, can a person give the coronavirus to someone else when they don't have any symptoms themselves.  So that asymptomatic transmission creates a lot of uncertainty.  We just don't know much about the coronavirus in the way that we know about the flu.  That's going to become better as time goes on."

But Aruguete says the hysteria over the disease may actually have a positive effect on society.

"It may be that this virus never comes to Missouri.  So are we harmed by washing our hands more?  Absolutely not.  We're much less likely to get a whole bunch of other viruses because we wash our hands more.  So what the heck?  Let's just practice good hygiene, just in case.  So I think there's a positive spin on it if it increases public health in general, even if we're not affected by the coronavirus per se."

The Centers for Disease Control suggests the most effective way to thoroughly cleanse your hands is a good scrubbing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, followed by thorough hand drying because damp hands more easily transmit and pick up germs.  

Aruguete also suggests another way to alleviate coronavirus anxiety is to get your information from reputable news sources like the CDC and the World Health Organization.  Both are available online.  Aruguete says social media outlets are probably not your best choice, and may just fuel your anxiety with misinformation.