Fear is becoming the overriding emotion in the current COVID-19 climate. The ‘fear’ pandemic is constantly on every channel and media platform and is positioned to feed into anxiety’s two favourite words – ’what if’. An open-ended ‘what if,’ is never-ending. We can literally ruminate over those two words for hours, if not days. The lack of certainty, the lack of trust in leaders, in our own judgement, along with the general feeling of being out of control, understandably leads to people trying to make decisions that are based on fear, rather than on facts, evidence, and rational thought.
Fear has four responses; fight, flight, freeze, and flop. We have recently witnessed people clearing the shelves in supermarkets, stockpiling tins of food, toilet rolls and paracetamol, and heard stories of garages and lofts stocked ready for the apocalypse. These survival responses can create ‘ugly’ scenes and feelings of desperation, anger, and resentment.
The advice, to practice social distancing and self-isolation, is opposite to our impulses because we have a need to feel connected to others (to have psychological intimacy) as well as proximity – a fundamental need in terms of attachment and bonding. When we are feeling vulnerable, we look for comfort from others and to care for our loved ones, so to avoid that natural response, can feel sad, isolating and triggering.
Accessing therapy, for any age, can really help, providing a safe space (which in ‘normal’ circumstances, often takes place physically face to face) but due to the current situation is just as effective when using telephone counselling, on line video skype or zoom. Using technology, makes therapy accessible whatever the circumstances creating space on a regular basis to explore feelings, to find perspective, balanced thinking and to learn strategies to keep well.