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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The scary thing about COVID-19 is there’s a lot we just don’t know, something that can lead to stress and anxiety. 

Experts say it’s important to have a way to deal with that stress to keep from getting overwhelmed.  

“Something like this is new for so many of us, and it calls for us to adapt,” Psychologist Dr. Jack O’Donnell told News 4. “To adapt in the best ways that we can so we don’t get overwhelmed by the emotions that it may generate.”

O’Donnell says during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to take care of yourself, even if you’re not infected, to keep anxiety from creeping in. 

“Meditation, if one can get outside, it can alleviate the feeling of being trapped inside the home,” O’Donnell said.  “There’s something about being in the outside air that can be helpful. Prayer, if a person is a person of faith.”

It’s easy to just want an escape, but O’Donnell says to make sure you’re doing something intentional with your time.  Not just looking for a distraction. 

“Distracting ourselves isn’t very helpful. It’s better to do something that would be intentional,” O’Donnell said.  “Whether that’s reach out to a friend and be supportive and receive support.”

O’Donnell says intentional means finding something you know works and keeps you calm. 

He also says you can overdo it. 

That’s why you see a mad dash to the stores for toilet paper and other panic shopping.  

“One of the things that impacts all of us can be related to a sense of helplessness,” O’Donnell said.  “We can’t do anything, so at least that’s something that people feel they can do to protect themselves.”

Another source of stress can be talking to your kids about the coronavirus. 

Licensed therapist, Doctor Rebecca Cole, says it’s important to keep an open line of communication with your kids. 

If they are young, it’s important to not let them see you panic, because they are taking all of their cues from you.  ​

“The children see that. That’s going to make it real difficult for them to understand that there’s nothing to worry about,” Cole told News 4. “One of the easiest things is just to explain to them, we’ve got some people that are really sick so we are trying to not let anyone else get sick.”

If your kids are older, Cole says honest is the best policy. 

The worst thing a parent can do is be afraid to have a real conversation with their teenagers.  

“They either don’t answer them accurately, or they don’t answer them at all, and the kids just make their own whatever they think it might be,” Cole said.  “They usually aren’t right.”

If you are feeling emotional distress due to COVID-19, you can call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.