New Normal?

The Psychology of the New Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The coronavirus outbreak created a global feeling of uncertainty and at the same time a period of social isolation. The new virus is yet to be identified fully by researchers, and the fact that its behavior and treatment is still unknown is causing feelings of fear to most of us out here. Also, bringing the fact that people have died from it, it causes elevated doses of everyday anxiety and fear to each one of us.

But, what about coronavirus and Psychology?

While WHO declares the new coronavirus as pandemic, the number of confirmed cases grows and the spread of the virus is now a global event that invaded our lives, causing us to worry not only about our health, but about our love one’s too. The uncertainty about the nature and the dimension of this catastrophic event, together with the feeling of not being in control is spreading fear faster than the coronavirus.

Reaction to fear, can create a variety of reactions including anxiety and panic, social withdrawal, confusion, overexposure to media and feelings of helplessness, among others, and this new coronavirus affected most of us around the world, with the majority of us displaying high levels of these reactions over a short period of time.

Fear factors and fear contagion!

Scientists have researched fear contagion and they all agree that it is an evolutionary process, which serves a survival function. Our brains are programmed to respond to environmental threats coming through visual, auditory and olfactory cues. The amygdala, receive the danger and they forward the information to the hypothalamus and brain stem areas, which in turn, coordinate the responses, leading to the commonly unconscious automatic responses known as fight, flight or freeze. Humans, like animals, have the ability to detect other people’s reactions, and when fear is transmitted to a mass, defense responses also are transmitted. This phenomenon is explained with the new coronavirus.

With the eruption of news reports about the coronavirus, the information reached the public, triggering the fear. This, combined with emotional misbalance led us to make fast judgments without the logical reasoning, resulting in the overestimation of the situation. Therefore, the fear traveled, from one person to another, faster than the virus and every one of us started responding with panic.

It is known that panic leads to problematic behavior. The panic created by the uncertainty of the new coronavirus increases the possibilities of virus transmission. Our mind plays tricks on us, and we are believing everything we read and hear. Misinformation, for example, prevents us from knowing and performing proper hygiene behavior, which in turn increases our risk of contracting the virus, or transmitting it to others.

Also, it seems that fear drives us to drawing conclusions about people or stereotyping a specific race. During the outbreak, most people pointed the finger to Asians resulting in hostile behaviors.

Managing and coping

Although the new coronavirus is a threat that should not be taken lightly, you have to understand that we human beings in general are highly resilient. Excessive preoccupation and too much attention to the media will keep you worried all the time. Minimize your news reading time and importantly avoid websites devoted to conspiracy theories. Furthermore, don’t fall into the trap of trying to match your every single response to the coronavirus symptoms. By having sore throat, headache or insomnia, doesn’t mean you have the virus.

Ensure that you eat highly nutritious foods in a well-balanced diet, keep exercising and get adequate sleep.

Focus on rational rather than emotional responses and keep yourself active through the day. If you find yourself in need of psychological support, contact a therapist that offers online support. Instead of catastrophizing, try to find opportunities for personal improvement.

Finally, accept that negative emotions are a part of this crisis. Don’t overestimate them and don’t feel bad about them. Contributed by Essona Organics www.essona.com

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