VICTORIA -- A clinical counsellor on Vancouver Island says it's natural to feel anxious in light of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. But George Bielay with the Waypoint Counselling Network says the best way to overcome coronavirus-related anxiety is to stick with the facts.

Bielay says it’s important to keep things in perspective and manage information correctly. The best way to do that, he says, is to limit how often you look for updates and stick to reliable sources of information, rather than believing what you hear in the checkout counter.

He also recommends reaching out to others.

"Stay connected with your community," Bielay says. "Terrific ways would be, of course, remotely online or on the phone, or as best you can in person but again maintaining social distancing.”

Talking to children in an age-appropriate way is also important, he says.

“Kids will take the lead of the adults, so if you can share information in an age-appropriate way, in a factual way, and letting kids know that they are safe," he says.

"We have a health-care system [that's] responding appropriately. They’re keeping the public safe."

Bielay says the rush of panic-shopping at grocery stores is sign of a negative response.

“That’s kind of panicky behaviour. I don’t think we’re anywhere near that level of concern,” he says.

The main takeaway from all this should be connecting with and supporting your community, Bielay says.

"In a funny kind of way it’s a great opportunity to slow down your lifestyle, maybe engage in some mindfulness practices, which are kind of anti-anxiety practices," he says. "Let’s keep things in perspective."

He also says laughter is often the best medicine for anxiety.

“It might be a great time to take advantage of those comedies on Netflix."