In our collective consciousness, this spring is different from others. The chestnuts may be blooming, meadows may be full of flowers and the fresh air in the park no longer needs to struggle with a cotton mask, but we are still having trouble breathing freely. Kindergartens are open, but most of us are still afraid to send our kids there. We look at other bus and streetcar passengers with distrust and nervously react to their coughs. We try to cope with news that “everything’s under control,” but “the epidemic is not over”; “it’s time for a new normal,” but “it still won’t be normal for quite a while.” Suddenly, we are facing new decisions and the related risk: Should I go get a haircut when the hairdresser’s is now open? Should I go to the shopping centre? Should I consider a vacation? What about the planned wedding?
The fear is still here, it continues to accompany us in some degree. According to the survey conducted by InfoMonitor for the BIG Register of Debtors, 34% of respondents are currently only concerned about their health while 45% are equally worried about their health and finance. Every tenth person is uneasy about their financial situation. So how do we cope with our current fear?
Getting accustomed to fear
Fear is a basic human emotion. It appears when we are in danger and triggers the fight or flight response. The fear of the pandemic causes that we leave home less frequently and obey the isolation guidelines, which could be a good thing. But what do we do when it starts to make our lives more difficult, when our subjective assessment of the situation deforms the situation itself? We need to realise how our emotions determine our behaviour and learn to take at least partial control of them.
One way to get accustomed to your fear is to change the way you think about the given situation. When you do, you will be able to focus on the realistic likelihood of the various consequences and the ways to resolve the problems they produce. This will bring fear down to a minimum.
Good habits and precious relaxation
The struggle with fear will be easier if we arrange our new reality and make time for relaxing things activities. Our mental health needs so-called living hygiene: we need to get regular sleep and nourishment, be active, and maintain good and close relations.
To keep our functions at the optimal level, we need to act according to the rules we develop. Our daily “procedures” (like morning exercises, coffee after breakfast, an evening stroll) help us increase our sense of security and distribute our forces for the upcoming challenges. We can also take advantage of relaxation techniques, which – as scientifically proven – reduce stress levels, insomnia, fatigue, and panic attacks and have a positive impact on our mental and physical condition.
Isolation and negative emotions
Besides fear, many of us experience discomfort resulting from the restrictions in our daily routines. Many of them have now been lifted, but our inner barometers are telling us that we should wait a little longer before visiting our grandparents or seeing our friends. If we go to the movies wearing a mask and sitting far away from others, will it still be as much fun?
These restrictions produce anger, a sense of injustice, and frustration. Some of us tend to take out these emotions on our dearest. Anger – like fear – is an emotion, which is sometimes needed. But – like fear – we cannot let it control us. We need to be aware of it when it appears. We need to know the words to describe our condition and the ways to cope with it.
If you have been living in fear due to the pandemic, having problems sleeping, succumbing to frustration, and having a hard time adjusting to the continually changing restrictions in recent months, you need to know that you are not alone. Plenty of us are experiencing the same things. Psychologists are alarming that the number of people in need of consultation is rising and projecting an emergence of a common post-traumatic stress disorder.
Free psychological support for people in need of assistance due to the pandemic is no longer limited to private practices. It is now available from universities, foundations, associations, therapy schools, and church institutions as well. There are various help lines and support groups.
If you do not need such assistance, just take care of yourself. Stop watching so much news. Keep in touch with the people important in your life, even indirectly. Develop your own daily plan, find some time to relax, but also to help others. Take care of your body, give yourself some time away from concerning thoughts, and… hang in there. Every pandemic must eventually end.