How best to approach the Coronavirus Situation
The uncertainty of the next few days, weeks and months is understandably troubling. To be honest it is difficult to maintain a sense of calm when all around us people are panic buying baked beans and predicting financial collapse and catastrophic death rates. But I’m minded of an album title from the 1970s. Crisis? What Crisis?
The picture suggests that whilst chaos is reigning in the world it is possible to find calm and pleasure – rather, it’s not what’s happening that causes us to feel bad, it’s the way we look at it that causes the problems. Research psychologists have come up with a five-step approach to developing a helpful mind-set.
- Build a sense of safety – self-isolating whether voluntary or not is a gift of safety to yourself and others. It protects you from harm and protects others from harm. It is the one major action that we can all do, even in the face of feeling totally helpless and overwhelmed, that will make the greatest contribution towards community safety. Yes, it may be disruptive and boring and it may also be a time for personal growth and an opportunity to develop resilience.
- Develop a sense of calm – the natural tendency of humans is to predict and control the future. This ability has got us to where we are now and is highly adaptive. The flip side however is that we have come to believe that we cannot bear uncertainty and it is this belief that underlies any anxiety disorder. We try to control and plan for every eventuality, eliminating the possibility of surprises and dealing with every possible catastrophic scenario in our heads. The problem is, this approach serves only to increase our anxiety and decrease our sense of calm. Practicing letting go of worrying thoughts and embracing the liberating knowledge that “what will be will be” has the paradoxical effect of promoting a sense of calm.
- Become effective – do the jobs around the house that you have been putting off. Offer to help others. Learn something new. Exercise. Keep working. Do whatever suits you but don’t just sit around doing nothing. Having jobs to do and being able to make a contribution helps to alleviate feelings of helplessness and overwhelm.
- We have technology that we can use to develop and maintain community – meeting in groups is not advised at present but community cohesion is possible in other ways if we can be inventive and creative.
- Spread hope – that solutions are possible and this crisis will eventually ease.