The Coronavirus has without a doubt taken over our lives and caused us a lot of anxiety. Whether we have contracted it or not, been forced to self-isolate or not, the coronavirus has been at the forefront of our minds during the past month. As I look back at the cold days of February with a sense of nostalgia, I wonder what the future holds.
Uncertainty is a fertile feeding ground for anxiety. Anxiety, if you don’t already know, relates to a perceived threat in the future. In the pre-coronavirus world, we were planning our holidays and taking business trips without a worry. Now, that has changed. The world is less certain. Will I be able to visit my grandparents in 3 months time? Will the restaurant I work at close down? We have been robbed of our sense of certainty within the space of a few weeks and we are desperately trying to control the chaos that has replaced it.
Here are the two most common ways of dealing with anxiety related to pandemics.
The Two Most Common Ways Of Dealing With Anxiety Related To Pandemics
The purpose of anxiety is to trigger a response that will save our lives. If I feel anxious at the thought of going on an airplane, it is because I perceive a threat to my life, and by not boarding the airplane I save my life and the anxiety subsides. In pre-historic times, anxiety was a useful tool. In the modern era, not so much.
The two most common ways of dealing with anxiety related to pandemics is by denial or the overconsumption of information.
Hearing about a pandemic whilst at work or at school can be very stressful. It is therefore quite understandable if you should choose to burry your head in the sand and act as if everything is normal. I don’t think anyone would think any less of you for this. This does however become dangerous when taken to the extreme. In our eagerness to overcome the uncertainty associated with the coronavirus and our desire for control, we exceed the boundaries of denial and become provocative. We go to the beach despite strict instructions not to do so and shame the over-precautious.
Being on the other side of the spectrum is no good either. We all have that work colleague that is constantly updating us with the latest death count or with the most recently list of symptoms published on the World Health Organization’s website. In times of great uncertainty we try to regain control by staying informed. We want to be up-to-date on symptoms so we can spot the people that have contracted the virus, so we can avoid them, and know when we have contracted it, so we can go to a hospital as soon as possible. We also want to know virus hot-spots and sanitary information so we can avoid the virus all together. Staying informed is of course good. Again, this does however become dangerous when taken to the extreme. Staying obsessively informed about the virus perpetuates the fear associated with dying from it and causes extreme stress that sleep patterns and general health.
What To Do
If you find yourself in either of these two categories, try to push yourself towards the other category as much as possible. If you are a denier, try waking up to the threat that the coronavirus imposes and if you are overly-informed, stay away from news coverage and websites.
Seeing the problem is good, but only focusing on the problem is bad.