The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 across the world has not just taken everyone by surprise but also turned our world upside down.
A changed world + vocabulary
Open a newspaper, put on the TV or glance at social media, and all you’ll see is news about the virus. “Lockdowns”, “viral hot-spots” and “quarantine” are all phrases that have become a new part of our collective vocabulary.
While the medical profession is struggling to keep up with the millions that need care and administrators are trying to keep pace with ever-growing supply needs, the rest of the world is struggling to come to terms with social distancing, a term entirely foreign to us just a few months ago.
The result of change=Resistance
Most of us don’t like change. Our routines make us feel comfortable. Any digression from an established routine can make us feel frustrated or scared.
While change is generally inevitable, COVID-19 has created an immeasurable disruption to our comfortable lives. Social distancing, along with having to wash hands regularly and be mindful of sources of infection, has had to take precedence over every other aspect of our lives.
It’s not just a change in routine, it is adjusting to living in confined spaces and interacting with family members on a whole new level. On top of it all are the worries of job loss, hungry stomachs to feed, disruptions in careers, and possible illness and death. These are all certain precursors to extreme anxiety and emotional distress.
Common distress reactions
Let’s look at some common ways people generally react in situations of emotional distress.
Denial + Withdrawal
Some people resist change and remain in denial. They try to go about their lives as best as they can. As such, some people might avoid reading about the pandemic or listening to the news.
Some may just withdraw from everyone, isolate themselves, or act like nothing has happened. They might maintain the mentality of “there is no virus” and they are not part of this crisis.
A reactionary impulse would be to rush to the medical store and buy 50 masks. Or purchase enough groceries to feed 100 people. Someone might consume every single piece of news about the virus so they can be constantly informed.
While others might obsessively practice religious rituals in attempts to keep the virus away. These are all reactionary tactics for coping.
Being proactive is trying to gain control over the situation and taking charge of what we have within our sphere of power or control. Being proactive is hard—it is considerably easier to simply deny, withdraw, or react on impulse.
However, being proactive in the long run will help us deal with stress and could be more rewarding over time.
How can we be more proactive with COVID-19 resilience?
Acknowledge that the COVID 19 pandemic and its associated disruptions are our new reality.
This is easier said than done, especially if it impacts your personal safety or your family’s next meal. But acknowledging that there is no escape from the situation is a crucial first step.
Opportunty ahead for the resilient
The pandemic may have changed our lives overnight but maybe we can see this as an opportunity to reframe our lives and find ways to thrive with COVID-19 resilience.
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