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INFECTED BY FEAR - how to cope with fear in the face of coronavirus?

Here at SOWA, we recognize that the exchange students who are currently in Poland may be particularly impacted by the current situation. Being away from home may feel worse than ever, as people often seek out comfort in difficult times. However, majority of us feel a bit off balance right now, as we try to find our feet in this crisis, so you’re definitely not alone! But to hopefully help you feel better, we have some tips you can use in the article below.

 

And remember, you can call us if you need to talk!

 

   „INFECTED BY FEAR – how to cope with fear in the face of coronavirus?”

 

With the appearance of coronavirus, our thoughts have been infected by the fear. There is no doubt that the current situation undermines the sense of safety of each of us and disrupts things which used to be stable. Classes are cancelled, there are restrictions involving going out, shopping, or meeting friends. Things that were available just yesterday,  now are suddenly closed. This is one of those kind of situations which might be beyond our imagination, which no one could have predicted. None of us wrote a script for such circumstances. The brain is receiving a huge amount of stimuli loaded with a novelty, feeling threatened, and with uncertainty. Add to this fear for our own lives and our loved ones’, and the bad scripts might develop in our minds, while this fear is constantly growing. So, what we are supposed to do? How to restore our balance? What can we do to not let fear take control of our lives? How to cope with it?

 

   Talk to others

During the time when staying at home and avoiding direct contacts are being recommended, taking care of relationships is very important as well. This particular time of seclusion shouldn’t turn into time of loneliness. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and other apps offer a lot of opportunities to stay connected with people all the time. Maintaining good relationships, mutual support and understanding are very important to keep the mental balance. We can support each other  -  we are in this together! Let’s talk about our feelings and anxieties, because this is the way that we can deal with all these struggles. This will allow us to overcome bad thoughts, confront our fears and let ourselves receive the support. But let’s not get crazy – let’s talk also about ordinary matters, relationships, everyday problems, TV shows and so on.

 

   Follow only reliable information

The world is flooding us with information - more or less true about the coronavirus.  People send each other a lot of links, "chain letters", information from friends’ friends which contain various messages often intensifying the fear.  It is worth introducing your own filter. Keep track of information from reliable sources (eg. Central Sanitary Inspectorate or the Ministry of Health).  We will find facts there, not speculations.  If we receive some disturbing information - let's check it.  If something critical was to happen, such as the closing of cities or shops, it will rather not be by a "Whatsapp message".

 It is good to limit the amount of time we spend on following the virus reports.  Do not constantly fuel your fear, do not let the bad information to overwhelm you all the time.  For example, you can check them only twice a day – in the morning and in the evening, but not just before the bedtime.

 

   Find time for yourself

 It is important to take care of time for yourself.  Time without surfing the Internet or following the news on TV.  Let's let our minds regenerate - get into other activities.  Read a book you didn't have time for.  Catch up on your favorite series.  Exercise if you have a space for it.  Get enough sleep.  Cook something tasty.  Meditate or take a long bath.  Anything that will serve you.  Let's create moments of normality – of stability.  This time can also be beneficial for us, offer a break and time to rest, which we now need very much to try to balance the fear.  Let's just try to lose ourselves in something every day - just for fun.

 

   Have a daily plan

Due to the break in classes and the #stayathome movement most of us gained a lot of free time. In this situation, it is worth to come up with a daily plan, create a schedule of tasks that we have to complete. The Routine is important. It gives us a sense of stability, while carrying out tasks can give us a feeling of purpose and satisfaction. Set a schedule for the day – e.g. time for studying and then time for pleasure.

 

   Does fear mobilize?

Yes, fear mobilizes. This emotion is to motivate us either to fight or flight. That’s how it was programmed. So now, it’s also thanks to fear that we are able to mobilize – do shopping, take care of our hygiene, and follow all recommendations. Fear is not just “the bad guy” in this situation. It is also our drive for preventive behavior.

 

   Accept fear

In a current situation, fear is something natural and normal. Being afraid for yourself and your relatives is an appropriate response. Let’s give ourselves the right to feel this way. It is not about letting the fear absorb us, but about recognizing that some part of this fear must be accepted. We have to come to terms with it. Anxiety is a reaction to a threat. It is a reaction to the new, uncertain and unknown. It has the right to be present here because of the situation we found ourselves in. Let’s not be afraid of fear. When we let it be here, then it won’t seem so terrifying. 

            

Author:

Marta Kogut-Lechowicz
psychologist, psychotherapist

 

Translation:

Marta Kubisiak
Monika Mazur
Alicja Strycharczyk
Marzena Trytek