Are you feeling overwhelmed by publicity, noise and media frenzy surrounding the current pandemic? Is this leaving you with a sense of dread and complete powerlessness over what may or may not ensue in the days, weeks or months ahead? Are you frustrated by the prospect of social distancing and self isolation? Are you being swept up by the irrationality of the masses, and yielding to a pressure to join the hoardes in panic buying where there is no rational reason to do so?
It is perhaps natural to take “flight in your mind” at times such as these as we face the unknown which is potentially scary. It is an understandable response given our innate ‘fight and flight” autonomic system that is designed to activate in the face of a perceived threat, attack or hamful event. This stress response produces stress hormones designed to enable us to fight or flee. Early in our evolution it was necessary for us to react quickly to threatening stimuli eg. by fighting or running, without needing to prepare ourselves psychologically, and this stress response enabled us to do this. However, modern day humans have little need to react physically to perceived threats and the hormones produced by the stress response therefore serve little purpose, and can in fact be damaging. Indeed, too much of the stress response can severely impair the immune system which in turn can reduce a person’s ability to ward off, fight or recover from an infection such as Covid-19. So it makes good sense to find a way through to somehow bring some rationality alongside whatever feelings you may be experiencing to dampen the stress response.
Acceptance might be a first step in doing this, acceptance that the situation is happening and that even social distancing and self isolation though unpalatable, are necessary measures for curbing the spread of the virus throughout the UK. Rather than feeling disempowered by the possibility of self-isolation, we have the opportunity to accept this and to prepare ourselves mentally as well as physically. This is important because it can instil a sense of control over more immediate and personal aspects of daily life despite feeling disempowered to do anything in terms of the virus more generally.
So what are the ways in which life might proceed for you, if you are indeed in self-isolation? It can be difficult being confined at home without your usual freedom to walk out of your front door and engage in whatever you would like to. But whilst this may feel restrictive, unusual, annoying, frightening, confusing and downright inconvenient, no amount of feeling this way will change things. Basic acceptance of your reality, however, may save you a lot of heartache along the path that is already unfolding.
So we invite you to take some time to sit down and undertake a brainstorming exercise with yourself, to move you towards an attitude of “can do and can see benefits” as opposed to resistance and fear which ultimately equate to not being prepared. How well do you know the part of yourself that is self governing and innovative and able to rise to the challenge ahead? In what ways might you start to benefit from having more time to focus on personal interests at home in which you may expand your mind and general outlook? What needs to happen for you to embrace the concept that there may be personal opportunities within our world of “now” and to allow yourself to start building ways to thrive rather than being pulled into a maelstrom of anxiety and dread? Pursuit of the answers to these questions can be a liberating and self-affirming experience, and I invite you to realise the benefits of this for yourself.
For more information on exploring personal opportunities and managing emotional distress, contact The Hove Counselling Practice for an initial online counselling assessment.