The lockdown, a period of time when we are isolated in our homes to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, can have a great impact on our psychological health. How does it affect us? How can we face it? How do we manage fear and anxiety?
The psychological involvement in such an extreme situation is evident and normal. Human beings are linked to a series of deep fears, such as the fear of not being able to control a situation, assuming vulnerability or the unpredictability of events, not being able to guarantee survival, illness, death, or social stigma. Right now we have them all mixed up. In addition to this, we must add seclusion and the feeling of physical, mental, and emotional restriction.
Ways to manage fear and stress
The responsibility is shared. One of the most important recommendations is not to forget to maintain humane treatment with each other. It is true that we must establish precautions when going out and maintain social interaction, but we cannot be on the street perceiving the people we meet as an enemy or a potential contagion mechanism. Even if we have to keep our distance, we can cross a glance or throw a smile; we must give priority to a humane treatment above that without getting carried away by psychosis.
In addition to this, we must avoid overexposure to information, since having a lot of information does not mean that you have knowledge. Sometimes, it produces an inadequate “information overload” which leads toward a state of panic and confusion.
Therefore, the best way is to obtain information from official sources and don’t get carried away by hoaxes and fake news. It is more convenient to spend a considerable amount of time developing your skills and occupying your time with other tasks.
When the days are the same and time doesn’t pass
While being locked up at home, the days always seem the same and it is normal to go to sleep with the feeling that tomorrow will be the same day again.
We are in the midst of acute stress, trying to adapt, and our sensation is one of frustration, irritability, boredom, slowness, even loss of concentration, and that time expands indefinitely.
For this reason, it is convenient to follow routines that help us to have order and feel busy; make the days more bearable. It is essential to take care of yourself every day: move, try to expose ourselves to the sun, do sports, engage in creative leisure such as painting, reading or dancing, and maintain daily contact with family and friends.
In addition to this, we must try to find spaces in the house for ourselves, different places where at some time of the day we can disconnect from the people we live with and have our little moment of introspection.
Another important aspect is not to set a certain date for the end of the confinement since that will make us generate an expectation and we will have a hard time if it is not met. Therefore, the best is to live day by day. Concentrate on what you have to do every day or every week, set small daily goals, and develop a confident mentality thinking that the situation shall pass.
There are many things integrated into daily life that we do not value. We go to work reluctantly, we feel pushed and crowded on public transport, we communicate a lot through social networks, and we do not appreciate direct and real contact with people. Given this situation of seclusion, we realize the essential value of all these aspects of our lives.
How to manage stress when it’s all over
Although human beings have a much greater capacity to cope with intense stress than we think, we do not have as much capacity to cope with the stress that is sustained over time in a chronic way.
So, normally, when we have gone through a long period of chronic stress, complications come. There will be people who, after this lockdown period, will still remain anxious. The most vulnerable could even develop depression or post-traumatic stress disorders.