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Fear, panic & mass hysteria…Covid 19

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Fear, panic & mass hysteria…Covid 19

Postby Looking_to_help » Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:29 am

Fear. Just the name in itself can be enough to generate its namesake. Repeated enough & the intensity could be increased to full blown panic. Of course at a mild level, fear is nothing more than caution, which can be a good thing. Even having some degree of fear can be helpful, in order to keep us out of a potentially harmful or dangerous situation. In dealing with the worldwide outbreak of this year’s Coronavirus (COVID-19), the term fear takes on a whole new level of intensity. Full blown panic, hysteria has been generated by this pandemic . Question being: is this level of fear all warranted? The answer may be in fact more complicated than just a simple yes or no. It's that unknown factor of uncertainty, fear of change and sense of losing control over our own lives that might be causing more fear, in some people.

Some of the fear may be in fact warranted. For older adults, elderly populations & even those with certain health conditions, they are in fact more at risk of severe symptoms or even death with COVID-19 going around. The fear in this case is what is causing people to take more precautions, from being more mindful of their basic hygiene, hand washing, cleanliness, to even self isolation-quarantine when needed, which ultimately can lead to less instances of COVID-19 spreading the way it already has…And that is certainly a good thing! The fear in this case, is helping us to reduce or prevent the virus. However the majority of our fear as a society is not really related to actually getting Coronavirus at all, if your generally a healthy or younger-middle aged person… The fear is more for those vulnerable populations, as well as more related to the disruption of our everyday life, as we know it and what that means…Ultimately the chaos that comes from the fear of the unknown, loss of control & predictability that we're accustomed to having over our lives, which takes us far out of our comfort level. It's the fear of not knowing what to expect with this unpredictable & unprecedented virus that we know little about, but we now have among us.

Flights & vacations cancelled, Stock markets around the world crashing, borders across the world closing, quarantines becoming mandatory… Schools, sporting events, Broadway shows all being cancelled…People having to work from home, or worse yet; not work at all, and the bills still need to be paid, so there's financial stress…This is a whole new intensity of fear indeed…Just look at what’s happened in China, Italy, and the panic is continuing to happen worldwide! A level of world panic-demic, probably not seen with a virus in perhaps over a century; we have had Swine flu, SARS, H1N1, Ebola recently…However nothing has quite reached this level of mass hysteria on a global scale quite like COVID-19 has, in our lifetime! That can be quite scary, the fear of the unknown…. And with this level of panic also comes our social distancing, a significant lifestyle change for most of us…a new level of isolation, loneliness, that we are not quite used to in our modern world, being as globalized & connected as we have evolved to be as humans!…This ultimately can lead to a sense of (another) great depression!…This world depression and all the sacrifices that we now must make as a society however are for the greater good, as depressing as life might look right now, it is really more about protecting the most vulnerable amongst us, it is for the WE instead of the ME…However all that social distancing that we now must adjust to as a society, creates its own set of issues.

What to do with all this new found extra time?…A profound sense of boredom can take hold, leading to feelings of apathy- hopelessness, paranoia & ultimately thoughts like “Its the end of the world”, and questions like “Is this what the apocalypse looks like?”, the feeling that this is now the new normal & things might continue to always be this way now and forever…Perhaps having more of this free time will require families having to spend more time together in close quarters, which can likely bring out “new” family dynamics, potentially leading to increased family drama & discord. Perhaps conflicts that were conveniently ignored from not always being together would ultimately manifest themselves, with all this new found “togetherness”. We might now finally be forced to confront the consequences of our long term distancing from one another, as well as our differences and in fact learn to manage conflicts together as families, rather than always being able to conveniently ignore or run away from them. Once again, it becomes about the WE instead of the ME.

If you couple that with the fear of all the unknowns of this viral pandemic and you have a recipe for significantly increased levels of anxiety, depression & family conflicts, as well as a general decline of our overall mental -behavioral health, as a society! As negative as that sounds, it does not…I repeat it does NOT have to be that way! We might not be able to think totally positive about the family members we are trapped with or about the breakdown of global society, as we know it, but we can think realistically about the situation. Not overly positive (since we don’t want to set ourselves up for disappointment if things don’t go as we plan), however not overly negative (since we don’t wan’t to set ourselves up for failure by acting out the way we feel and thus sabotaging our own chance of success by living up to our negative expectations). However it is important to think somewhere in the middle, and that is where “Realistic thinking” comes in to play! Also known as neutral thinking, where you can quite literally say to yourself: “I know this is a scary situation, however i am not alone in feeling this way, it is shared amongst us all…and we will get through it…Perhaps not this week, or next week, but I believe it will get better at some point….And since I can’t get out and do the things I used to do, I will make the best of the situation I am in”. Realistic thinking acknowledges the negative, but validates it (this is a scary situation) and normalizes it (not being alone in feeling this way, since a similar situation is shared amongst us all). However realistic thinking can also reality test the situation, all the while instilling a sense of hope and optimism (Perhaps not this week, or next week, but I believe it will get better at some point). This ultimately brings it back to reality and can be predictive to how you will follow through with your behaviors, just by *not* setting yourself up for failure by the way you think or by self sabotaging to ensure failure (I will make the best of the situation I am in…), hence Realistic thinking…But ultimately, how do you make the best of the situation you are in?

That’s where Coping or self care strategies come in….Listening to more music, taking up art or drawing, spending more time with our pets, catching up on old movies or TV shows, (however its important to watch the news in moderation, since the news can be triggering sometimes) or just relaxing. Both meditation and mindfulness skills, have been shown to be highly effective in times of great stress & fear. Mindfulness of the moment, enjoying the small things we can focus on, and being grateful for all we still have, not for what we currently don't! Perhaps we could also use this opportunity to reconnect with our personal hobbies, interests or values, helping us to improve our connection with ourselves… Importantly, we must also continue with physical activity. Even doing some degree of exercise in the home (or doing it outside, if you can) can greatly improve our mood & emotional well-being. Reconnect with nature, do some hiking or some type of other outdoor activity… Keep in mind these coping or self care strategies are something to do, they can help us to keep busy, pass the time and keep our sanity, especially while we are disconnected from society. Coming up with a daily routine of activities to do at home can help keep us grounded, give us back a sense of predictability & control over our lives (even if its on a smaller scale than before) and help pass those long days, while still feeling like were being productive. Bottom line is, you are off…look at it as a vacation, maybe not one that you totally wanted, but its where you need to be for the time being…Might as well try to enjoy, and make the most of it!

On a family dynamic level, we can look at the negatives of having more family discord or arguments in these close quarters, however it might also be helpful to look at it another way, a realistic way…Sure families might have their conflicts and differences, but this might be a good time to learn how to work together and manage our differences, ultimately become closer, as a result (Though not always the case!)… Some families might finally be able to bond & spend that quality time together they have been seriously lacking in our ever -busy, fast paced & disconnected world, where no one seems to have time for eachother…This virus might actually now force us to make time for one another! Kicking back, having that quality, bonding time with our families or with those friends who are like family, might actually help us all improve our relationships from a family perspective, carrying over to a larger scale society perspective.

Perhaps when all is said and done, and this virus finally passes, decreases to a manageable level or we can all be vaccinated from it, and the time will come when we will all be rejoined again as a globalized social society….The hope is we can use those skills learned by that intense connectivity and bonding within our own families & from re-connecting with ourselves and be able to practice those skills within a larger social society….Perhaps maybe, through all of this we can finally learn to be kinder to ourselves and get along with each other as one Global society! Now maybe that goes beyond the realm of realistic thinking and more into the level of positive utopian thinking, but we must never lose hope, continuing to carry on!… and as the old saying goes “This too shall pass!!”
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Re: Fear, panic & mass hysteria…How to get through COVID-19

Postby helpfulone1 » Wed Mar 18, 2020 12:05 am

Very long post. Too long to read.
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