LN – Panic-free and together: how to prevent the coronavirus from damaging our emotional health

According to specialists, social distancing, isolation and quarantine affect people psycho-affectively; In this context, it is possible to deploy different strategies for a better coexistence and to be able to continue the family routine without so many surprises Credit: Shutterstock

With more tension, anxiety and alertness. This is how many people feel about the coronavirus pandemic, especially when their daily lives begin to be affected.

According to the specialists consulted by LA NACION, the high levels of stress experienced by these hours in the homes of Argentina and the world inevitably affect our psycho-emotional health and that of our families.

Words like “isolation”, “quarantine”, “chinstraps”, “artificial respirators”, “contagion” and “death” resonate again and again in the media, on social media, in conversations between friends and on homes, generating different sensations.

“These terms are entering and settling in the dynamics of our psychic world, along with their respective unconscious meanings,” explains clinical psychologist Federica Otero. For this reason, the specialist warns that “the coronavirus puts us in check” and raises two scenarios: facing the unknown “we can be terrified and paralyzed or use psycho-affective resources that will help us contain ourselves and the other.”

Fear in itself is not bad

, If not the opposite. It is one of the crucial tools we have to live together in the world and to protect ourselves from real dangers. It can help us not to take risks or to expose ourselves more to the real dangers of life, “explains Otero.

Panic, on the other hand, is something else

. “The subject begins to not know exactly what is happening to him, is disproportionate and does not necessarily coincide with reality. Thus, it produces confusion and paralysis,” says the specialist. In this sense, he adds that “the coronavirus and its entire network of unconscious meanings can play tricks on us” and, little by little, “monopolize all our attention, to the point of paralyzing them.”

Therefore, the psychologist warns that we have to be aware and not get caught in that labyrinth. How to find the right balance between taking care of ourselves without panicking or denying reality? What resources can be deployed to make this experience as tolerable as possible, minimizing the risks to our mental health and even, why not, being strengthened?

Among the tips to put into practice, Otero stresses that it is important to be well informed, flexible, try to carry out activities that give us pleasure, talk to children and family, put together routines and keep in mind that the states of Mood are ‘contagious’ between members of a household or social group, through different identification mechanisms. For this reason, the psychologist points out that we must bear in mind the psychological care for ourselves and others.

Along the same lines, the Spanish psychologist Javier Urra, a prominent member of the Spanish Academy of Psychology, stresses that the current context “is not the time for overreaction or whoever saves himself.”

“We have a pandemic, but let’s see if it will also be of generosity or selfishness. We need so much surprise, before an unexpected fact, social leadership, solidarity, understanding and commitment are essential,” he says.

For Urra, it is important to avoid obsessing and being “abducted by overinformation.” “Let’s look for the truth, and of course let’s look for affective support. Let’s face the situation helping others, managing self-care, leaning on loved ones in the face of anxiety. Let’s not lose perspective, we don’t feel harassed and cornered, and from self-care we keep our mental health, “he advises.

In case of overwhelming nervousness, persistent sadness, anguish or panic, Urra recommends going to a clinical psychologist.

“These mental health experts help people deal with extreme stress and provide constructive ways of dealing with adversity,” he warns.

Maintaining positive thoughts is, for Urra, another key to taking care of mental health:

“The issue is serious and can be long. The human being needs to hold on, to use strengths that give him perspective, that give him security. Let us be aware of the immense percentage of people who heal, carry out actions that transmit a sense of control, such as washing our hands and being responsible for what we do, because we can help. ”

Regarding social networks, specialists warn of the need to avoid spreading fear, panic and replicating false news. But they also highlight its positive side.

“It can keep us connected by fostering a sense of normality and providing valuable ways to share feelings,” says Urra.

In fact, in recent days, initiatives by citizens from different countries who, from their homes, seek to maintain contact with others, accompany, sustain themselves and maintain a positive outlook, were replicated on the networks. All this, while still respecting the premise that has already become one of the hashtags of the moment: #YoMeQuedoEnCasa.

In videos shared on Twitter, for example, people are seen doing gymnastics from the balconies of their homes, playing bingo or even participating in “remote” parties.

Urra focuses on the need that, in the context of the pandemic, we have the capacity to take an interest in other matters, without “overexposing ourselves to information that saturates and limits”. “We cannot remain in a state of permanent alert obsessed by worries and sensations, prevented from sleeping, from working. Let us take care not to turn fear and frustration into aggressiveness or violence. Let us also think about when this happens,” says the Spanish psychologist. And concludes:

“Human beings are resilient, they face suffering, uncertainty, anxiety and anguish. I believe that we can and must learn and make the most of it”.



Publicado en el diario La Nación

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