The coronavirus is our company for some months now and many of us made more or less intense experiences with it. For example, the long and agonizing waiting for the test result, quarantine, prescribed by law, or the flood of information, we are partly forced to consume. Of course, all of this does not pass without a trace and more and more studies found, that the coronavirus could not just leave physical, but also deep psychological scars. What can we do, to overcome this crisis together without scars? Instahelp psychologist Kerstin Jäger has tips regarding to the coronavirus:
Many people get worried because of the negative news, with which they are bombarded. How should someone act in such an exceptional situation?
Kerstin Jäger: Now we are confronted with an overflow of news. Unfortunately, it is not possible, to completely ignore it, because this topic is truly shocking the whole world. In this context it is recommendable, to select, which news offer qualitative information and which ones just try to “spread panic”. You should search for sources, which have good information and inform you about the actual situation, or how you could protect yourself and others. It is not advisable to completely refuse to stay informed about this topic, as profound knowledge is an important part of a conscientious and self-determined handling.
After breathing a sigh of relief in summer, we now got invited again to reduce our social contacts as much as possible. So, many people are home alone. What could such a person do, to not get gloomy and to avoid cabin fever?
Kerstin Jäger: The most important thing is to stay active – also for people, which are in domestic quarantine. If you know that you will be at home for several days, it helps to make a plan and to give your days a structure. On the one hand, to distract yourself and one the other, to still have the feeling to have a meaningful plan for the day. It is also important, to keep your social contacts alive – which is easy to do via smartphone or social media. You should not isolate yourself and be alone with your feelings, but you should share your thoughts with others. At home there are also possibilities to reduce stress: with gymnastics, yoga, or creative methods.
How should you deal with social media, where often many half-truths are spread?
Kerstin Jäger: Very selective. A fundamental way of dealing with social media is: If possible, you should just be in touch with people, who are good for you and who build you up. The permanent comparison with people, who apparently feel better now than oneself and who just present the sunny sides of life, lets the feeling of despair and being inactive and passive just getting stronger.
What advice do you have for people, who are waiting for a test result?
Kerstin Jäger: In this situation it is important to distract yourself and to live in the moment. There is not much sense in getting lost in the typical “what-if-thoughts“. Also, in this context it is very important to question your fear and do a reality check:
- What happens if my test result is positive?
- How high is the chance that this is truly threatening for me?
We know by now, that elderly people are particularly at risk and that middle-aged persons do not have such a high risk and mostly have a mild course. So, it makes sense to ask yourself: What would really happen, if I am infected? The medical care would be good and most likely the course is going to be mild.
How could quarantine affect our psyche?
Kerstin Jäger: It affects your psyche if you must stay at home for 14 days. Especially, if you feel completely other-directed. Feelings of anger and rage, caused by massive limitations, paired with fear and despair develop into irrational actions and dysfunctional thought patterns. In the extreme case post-traumatic stress symptoms manifest under quarantine, like for example sleep and concentration problems, psychological arousal, and depressive symptoms.
Some psychological platforms, as well as practising psychologists, offer the possibility of a counselling via telephone or online. It is important to let people know that there is comprehensive psychological care and to motivate people to get professional help in such a situation, to alleviate feelings of fear, or depressive symptoms and to reduce long-term effects.
How should the environment react if someone close is affected? How could you help?
Kerstin Jäger: As a relative, you should let them know, that quarantine is a fine act. You do it for the common good. And at this point this is a good confirmation. To stay in quarantine is an important act to contain this disease. It is about showing people what is the sense behind it. Through this, the psychological stress should be reduced. Thus, you are not a victim, but you get back self-responsibility. Of course, the fear of being stigmatised is big. That is why we should be there for each other, or send each other small gifts, or put it in front of the door. Running errands, as well as taking away financial and existential worries. Simply showing: We are there for you, we call, we text, we send pictures, we help each other and at some point, this hard time will be over too. And then we will catch up on everything we had to cancel.
Have you received a lot of requests, caused by corona, yet?
Kerstin Jäger: For many of my clients, corona is a big topic. Especially, because many of them suffer from anxiety. In those cases, it is primarily about work out strategies with them, how they can deal with their fear and how to reduce it.
Photo credits: unsplash.com/@szymon12455