Coronavirus: Understanding The Fear Of The Unknown

 COVID-19 has gripped us all in fear regarding how fast the infection spreads, but it has also shown us that we are all connected in a way we cannot comprehend. At this particular time, we are all exposed; with our mutual fears and anxieties showing us that we are all humans. We all suffer. We all get scared. None of us are perfect, not even the people who seem to have the picture perfect life. The Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 740,000 people globally. It has put financial markets, economies and healthcare systems to the test. And for all of us, it has brought about a huge wave of overwhelming emotions, but how do our emotions play a role in our reaction to this crisis? Scroll down to read how our brain reacts to instances like these, and what some of the best methods to deal with fear of the unknown are:

EMOTIONS

Emotions are what make us human and are natural responses to help protect us. We shouldn’t try to shut them up or push them down. Instead, it’s best to learn to manage them and remind ourselves that it is okay to get help if our negative emotions start to get in the way of our daily lives. 

As a therapist, I have witnessed a noticeable increase in mental health challenges during the past few months due to the current global health crisis. A lot of us are now viewing and processing the news of the pandemic and for most of us, the Amygdala – the part of our brain that controls fear – is playing a huge role in this process. It kicks in during times of danger and sends the body into a fight or flight mode. However, the rational part of the brain, the Prefrontal Cortex, takes a backseat during this time. So our fear takes over which, in turn, feeds our anxieties and panic. We see a visual portrayal of this in people’s behaviours nowadays, such as in their acts of panic buying toilet paper or hoarding items like sanitisers.

Fear Of The Unknown

As humans, we develop a method to store past experiences which then become ‘known’ to us. Flu for instance, is known. We have had it, or someone we know has had it and so we don’t fear it. Covid-19 however is a new virus so the experts know little about it. All we can see are graphs or statistics about new cases and death rates associated with them. The exposure to endless conspiracy theories and fear-mongering tactics through social media doesn’t help. Our minds are in a constant fear zone, preparing for any danger and trying to filter the enormous amount of information thrown at us from all directions.

And it’s not just fears for our health. The unknown includes various factors. A lot of us are thinking about the future and questioning all sorts of things: When will this end? Is my job secure? What about the business I worked so hard to build? Will my parents be okay? What about my wedding plans? What about my big summer holiday? All these questions can be fuelling your fear of the unknown. Though we may not have the answer to them at the moment, we can be positive that all will be well soon.

Some Of The Ways To Deal With This

Know The Facts

Get your information from authentic news sources. Read through them once a day, and then move on. 

Set A Routine 

If you’re in isolation, it is beneficial to set a routine for the day. Getting out of your PJ’s and changing into different clothes is a great way to set a positive mood for the rest of the day. Try something new or set a goal for yourself such as an online course or learning a new language. It’s especially beneficial to your physical and mental health if you can incorporate some kind of physical exercise in your day. 

Self-Care

Immunity and stress levels are correlated. This means that during moments of prolonged stress, our immunity is not working on its optimum level. Managing stress through exercise, meditation, mindful walks or an online chat with a loved one is so important. The things that relax, distract and relieve your stress should be added to your daily routine on a normal basis, but especially right now. 

Letting Go

Let go of the high expectations you set for yourself. Accept that this moment is unprecedented and that it is okay to need some time to adjust and cope with it. Take this opportunity instead to practice kindness to yourself, as well as to others.

The world will come out of this crisis soon, but let’s take this time to reflect and pause. It’s the pause which we never seemed to find time for, and the one most of us didn’t know how to implement in our lives. It’s our chance to reset before getting ready to play again, hopefully this time with more awareness.

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