Emotions related to the coronavirus. How to deal with the current situation?

We have all been living in a new reality for some time now. Each of us has felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic to a greater or lesser extent. It is worth noting that just as a person learning about a disease needs time to adapt to it, each of us must face adaptation to a new, difficult situation, which is life in the current reality of the pandemic. Especially since it changes quite dynamically.

The emotions that may accompany us during the pandemic may also be very different, depending on the extent to which it currently affects our functioning and private or professional life. Our personality factors and the ways we have dealt with difficult situations or challenges so far may also be important.

The main emotion we can feel is fear. It may concern many aspects related to the pandemic and we may experience it at different levels. This may be, for example, fear of getting sick, of infecting our loved ones, of side effects, or fear for one's own life.

How to deal with emotions in the current situation?

First of all, it is worth noticing and naming the emotions we experience, not denying them. Emotions in themselves are not bad, we need them very much and feeling both good and difficult emotions is human and important for our functioning. It allows us to react to various situations, recognize threats, but also informs us about how we perceive reality. The problem occurs when we begin to live in a constant state of arousal caused by difficult emotions, which may negatively impact both our mental health and immune immunity. This is of great importance because it may make us more susceptible to various types of infections.

In the current situation, apart from fear, we have the right to feel a whole range of other emotions and feelings, e.g. anger, sadness, frustration, helplessness, uncertainty. It is worth taking a look at the thoughts that appear in our heads and considering which of them are facts and which are our beliefs or ideas about the current situation. What emotions do specific thoughts evoke in us? It is worth considering: How we can think differently about a given aspect of the situation to feel better, without denying the facts.

What we can do is try to think about what we have real influence over. Some people can find it very helpful to follow procedures. Of course, this does not guarantee that we will not get infected 100 %, but it can reduce the level of tension and give us a certain sense of control over the situation.

Another aspect is obtaining information about the current situation. It is good to choose proven sources from which we will draw knowledge. Unfortunately, much information appearing in the media, as well as the form of its communication itself, may unnecessarily amplify difficult emotions; in some people, they may increase the feeling of emotional tension and even lead to panic.

How to support our loved ones?

It is worth sharing what we are going through in the current situation, but also paying attention to what our loved ones are going through. We can try to reflect the emotional states of a given person by saying, for example, ''I see that you are stressed by the current situation'', ''I see that you are sad. Would you like to talk about it?'' We can also ask questions like: ''Is there anything I can do to make you less afraid?''

Coronavirus-related losses and coping with them

We may also experience other losses, e.g. loss of job, difficulties in access to treatment, lack of participation in previous activities, difficulty in contact with loved ones. First of all, it is worth recognizing and accepting that a large part of these losses are real and very difficult. It's worth taking a closer look at our thoughts about them. Sometimes it happens that we do not see a way out of a given situation and the thoughts that come to our mind only give rise to fear and terror. It is worth talking about it with another person, it may be someone close to you, someone you trust. Together we can think about possibilities and solutions to a given situation that we may not see on our own. Working together on difficulties and finding solutions may have a positive impact on some relationships.

In the current situation, more and more of us know people who have fallen ill, but we also find out that someone we knew or someone from our friends' family has died. It is worth mentioning here that the loss of loved ones due to a pandemic is usually a sudden loss. The course of the disease varies, but usually there is very little time to get used to the situation. It is often impossible to stay with a dying person or say goodbye to them, which is a particularly difficult experience for both parties. If we know someone in our environment who has lost a loved one due to COVID-19, or we have experienced such a loss ourselves, it is worth giving yourself time and allowing yourself to grieve in an individual way. We can ask a person after a loss: ''Can I do something for you?'' ''Can I support you in any way?''

However, assurances such as: 'Remember that I am here are also important. If you need me, you can always call. Sometimes we may not know what to say and it is worth admitting it, it often opens up real support and building relationships. We can say, for example, "I can only imagine what you are going through."

''I don't know what to say, but maybe you need me to sit with you, spend some time with you.''

How else can you help yourself?

It is worth using various forms of relaxation, visualization, breathing exercises, Mindfulness practice, gratitude, physical exercises and observing how and whether a given activity helps us. For some people, acquiring new skills may be helpful and developmental, e.g. needlework, learning a language, participating in online courses and webinars. If we work at home, we can take care of the daily routine that has been disrupted. For some people, it may be helpful to, for example, set a regular time to get up, dress as if you were going to work, take care of new forms of activity at the same time as you engage in them after work, take care of relationships with others via social media, telephone .

When to use professional support?

Sometimes it may happen that we will not be able to adapt to the situation on our own and it is worth seeking professional support. We can go to a psychologist or psychotherapist who will support us and help us work with our thoughts and emotions and better adapt to the current situation. In some cases, it may be necessary to see a psychiatrist and seek pharmacological support. Nowadays, many specialists work online and it is as valuable support as therapy or a visit to the office. It is worth paying attention to whether thoughts about the coronavirus do not take up most of our day and whether we feel like we are losing control over them. It is also worth looking at our mood and drive, possible sleep and appetite disorders, feeling of pleasure, and the strength of anxiety. It is very important that we recognize the changes that are taking place within us and not be afraid to reach out for help when our coping abilities are exceeded.

Despite difficulties with direct contacts, we have each other as people and we can support each other in various ways in the current situation. Helping another person can also give us the feeling that we are doing something good and important to influence the current situation. Even if they are small things, a little information or task assistance can give us the feeling that we are doing something for each other to improve certain aspects of the current situation. Thanks to talking to another person, we have a chance to release our emotions and feel community in these unusual circumstances.

Ilona Stankiewicz




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