Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

Coping with the corona virus outbreak

Whenever there is a natural disaster, people tend to catastrophise and fear the worst. This is why panic buying begins and everyone goes into mass panic. It’s important to keep your wits about you and not lose the plot. Don’t allow the news reports to set you off. Keep calm, take the sensible precautions but also live your life.

If you look at the historical record of new diseases emerging, they trigger high levels of anxiety. When we experience intense stress we don’t always think clearly and when there are many people around you getting scared, this can lead to outright hysteria pretty quickly. We begin to mistrust our own perceptions.

The coronavirus is scaring people because it’s new. Humans are very vulnerable when it comes to uncertainty and catastrophizing is one the unhelpful ways in which we try to cope with problems – although we inadvertently make it worse.

When we see others panicking, it can become contagious and a domino effect happens where we all start throwing common sense out the window and follow what everyone else is doing.

Misinformation is spread with ease and open social media platforms can exacerbate the problem, amplifying the panic.

When we feel out of control buying up supplies and somehow preparing can give people a false sense of control. This is the psychology behind panic buying. When we feel we have lost control of certain areas, we compensate for this buy finding other ways to feel in control.

Anticipatory anxiety

The anticipation is often worse than the actual event. Sure there have been deaths and I am not making light of that but if you look at the actual numbers that have been affected, those that have passed away and those that have become well again after corona virus, it leads me to believe that we need to chill out.

Worrying isn’t going to improve the situation, it will only make it worse.

What you need to do

Be sensible and take the necessary precautions – such as washing your hands regularly, using a pen to push lift buttons etc or wearing gloves when appropriate and refrain from touching your face. This part you can control, perhaps also avoid large crowds but apart from that – calm down and carry on with life. If you own a business and you’re worried about how to establish workplace policies set around cleanliness and sanitation, you can refer to resources online such as this cleaning guide. This guide will help you adapt in the so-called “new era” in the workplace

I have more to fear than most as I have an underlying health condition that affects my lungs called  Cystic Fibrosis. I don’t know of anyone with Cystic Fibrosis that has caught the virus yet so I have no idea how it will affect me if I catch it. Despite this, I recently travelled to San Francisco and Denver and had a lovely time. In fact it was quite lovely having no queues and an empty plane for a change …

Watching too much news puts people into a hypervigilant state and raises people’s resting levels of stress. Plus we are hard-wired to protect ourselves.Our memories also play tricks on us, helping us to recall things that we have seen repeatedly and this can lead to distorted thinking.

You cannot control every single risk that comes your way in life, and lead a meaningful, productive life at the same time. Extensive, unrealistic avoidance is not compatible with survival. In a nutshell – you have to just get on with it and not allow irrational thinking and fear overwhelm you. Know the difference between a real problem – what you can control and a hypothetical problem (one that you cannot control – the overall path of coronavirus).

Mandy X

#coronavirus #psychology #fear #panic



Photo by CDC on Unsplash