It is impossible to talk about another topic. It is impossible to think of anything else. The coronavirus is causing great concern and emotional discomfort in the population due to the uncertainty generated by the rapid spread of this virus, which causes the known disease COVID-19 and is already considered a pandemic.
“Fear is an unpleasant emotion, but a very healthy, necessary and adaptive one. However, intense and extreme fear leads to an emotional blockage that often paralyses us. The consequence is that it nullifies our ability to react or to look for solutions or alternatives that help us to be better”, Mercedes Bermejo, the coordinator of the Clinical Psychology Section of the Official College of Psychology of Madrid, explains to CuídatePlus.
In addition, “the coronavirus has caught us in the age of technology, and social networks and much of the information that is arriving is not well verified or does not come from rigorous sources,” warns psychology and advice maintaining a good state of mind, the calm and tranquillity, as well as consulting only verified information about the coronavirus.
Bermejo comments that the looting that is taking place in some supermarkets responds to fear and ignorance “and to a lack of trust in politicians, which generates a lot of uncertainty, and this increases emotional discomfort. When you have minor children, the concern about shortages also responds to the tendency to protect or overprotect the family nucleus.
How to stop constantly thinking about the coronavirus? The specialist in Clinical Psychology points out that “different relaxation techniques can be practised, such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness and self-awareness. This last tool focuses on self-awareness, thinking more about the present and seeking solutions for the here and now. It can also be used to do pleasant or pleasant activities for which you do not usually have time, such as reading or watching a movie.
Bermejo considers that “this terrible health crisis that forces you to stay at home can share leisure time, doing things like playing board games, listening to music, dancing or watching television together”.The psychologist advises differentiating the weekday schedule from the weekend for adults and children, “maintaining a routine from Monday to Friday even if you have to stay at home and schedule activities, especially those of the mornings”.
Bermejo ventures that this pandemic “is going to affect many levels, such as social, economic and political. The psychological footprint of the coronavirus at the individual level will depend on how each person manages this situation and their support network. Sometimes we also must know how to ask for help to feel cared for. Either it will provide us with more resources and strategies to overcome complicated situations or, on the contrary, it will generate traumas, leaving sequels of anxiety due to the fear that the same thing will happen again. In society, in general, we are going to need a little more self-care to be able to stabilise ourselves psychologically.
Tips for coping with psychological distress from the coronavirus
Faced with this situation, the Official College of Psychology of Madrid offers a series of recommendations for different situations:
If you are not affected by this disease
But you are feeling a series of emotions with high intensity and persistent such as:
- Nervousness, agitation or tension, with a feeling of impending danger and panic.
- You can’t stop thinking about something other than the illness or worry about getting sick.
- You need to be constantly seeing and hearing information on this subject.
- You have difficulty concentrating or being interested in other matters.
- It is difficult for him to carry out his daily tasks or work properly and fear paralyses him.
- He is alert, analysing his bodily sensations and interpreting them as symptoms of illness, the usual signs.
- He finds it difficult to control his worry and persistently asks his relatives about his health.
- You notice an increased heart rate, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), sweating, or trembling for no apparent reason.
- You have trouble getting restful sleep.
We recommend that you:
- Identify thoughts that may cause you discomfort. Constantly thinking about the disease can make symptoms appear or worsen, which increases your emotional pain.
- Avoid information since being permanently connected will not make you better informed and could unnecessarily increase your feeling of risk and nervousness.
- Contrast the information you share. If you use social networks to find out, try to do it with official sources.
Emotional self-care guidelines:
- Maintain an optimistic and objective attitude. He is strong and capable.
- Carry out the proper hygiene and prevention habits recommended by the health authorities.
- Avoid permanently talking about the coronavirus.
- Lean on your family and friends.
- Go to official sources and look for information verified by experts: Ministry of Health, professional health associations -the one for doctors, the one for nursing and the one.
- For pharmacists- and official organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Do not contribute to spreading hoaxes and false news. Do not feed your fear or that of others.
- Beware of behaviours of rejection, stigma and discrimination. Fear can make us behave impulsively, rejecting or discriminating against certain people.
If it is a population at risk, according to the health authorities
Follow the recommendations and prevention measures determined by the health authorities. Trust them because they know what to do.
- Educate yourself realistically and follow emotional self-care guidelines.
- Don’t trivialise your risk to evade feelings of fear or apprehension about the disease.
- Don’t magnify the real risk you have, either. Be cautious and prudent without being alarmed.
- If isolation measures are recommended, keep in mind that it is a scenario that can lead you to stress, anxiety, loneliness, frustration, boredom, anger, and feelings of fear and hopelessness.
- Create a daily routine and take the opportunity to do those things that you like but that you usually cannot do due to lack of time (read books, watch movies or series, etc.).
If you are suffering from the disease
Follow the recommendations cited above and, in addition, during quarantine:
- Manage your intrusive thoughts. Don’t put yourself in the worst beforehand.
- Don’t be unnecessarily alarmed. Be realistic. The vast majority of people are healing.
- When you feel fear, lean on your experience in similar situations. Think about how many illnesses you have successfully overcome in your life.
What should children be told?
“Adults must adapt the information that we transfer both to the evolutionary level of children and to the changes that occur day by day in the situation of the coronavirus outbreak, giving the importance it deserves to the prevention of transmission, as well as to hygiene measures, thus reducing alarm situations that affect minors”, they say from the Official College of Psychology of Madrid.
Responding to the needs and demands of society, the Section of Clinical Psychology, Health and Psychotherapy of the Official College of Psychology of Madrid, in collaboration with Editorial Sentir, has prepared a story entitled Rosa contra el virus. A report to explain the coronavirus and other possible viruses can be read and downloaded at the following link.
This story is aimed at children between 4 and 10 years old and seeks to explain to the little ones -accompanied by their parents most straightforwardly and transparently what a virus is and how to manage their emotions.