Many people are experiencing the loss of a sense of personal power and self-efficacy during this crisis. They have no control at a macro level (they cannot end the Pandemic) and may be feeling disempowered and mentally overwhelmed as a consequence.
What we are witnessing at a micro level, the level of the individual, is the need to assert control in a situation where they acutely feel its lack at psycho-emotional levels. Directing ones focus onto a problem which can likely be managed and mitigated against, such as seeking to fill one’s cupboard with food, strongly relates to the survival mechanism of “fight”.
Research shows that in traumatic situations if “fight” is perceived as possible it will be enacted. So for example, what we are witnessing in terms of panic buying, is all about survival and seeking control in a disempowering situation. It therefore has its functionality in the human psycho-emotional system.
Just be aware of your reactions and the extent to which they are healthy.
But as we have all witnessed, in many cases this “seeking to survive” has reached dysfunctional levels as the primitive parts within us have rippled through society.
Many of us may be experiencing wide swings in our thoughts. One day we may be obsessing about the Crisis, immersing ourselves in the news and experiencing intrusive thoughts. Another day we may be mentally retreating and avoiding the media. Keep yourself tuned in to what you are thinking and doing and why.
It is normal to have worry about the range of incoming threats you are experiencing – threats to your own or a loved one’s survival, financial concerns, self-isolation and social-distancing – but try to be aware of your thoughts. Ask yourself the following:
“Is this helping me to deal with the situation?”
“Are these thoughts keeping me in a state of overwhelm?”
“Does my thinking lead to helpful answers?”
“Do I need to ‘switch off’ for a little while so that I am managing my mental stress?”
During this crisis you may drop into a possibly familiar space of negative thinking and negative internal dialogue.
“I should have been better prepared for this. It’s all my fault that my family is struggling to get a delivery slot. I had planned to do this ages ago but never got round to it”.
Such self-criticism might be normal for you. But in this situation when you are having to deal with so many incoming stressors which you do not have full control over it is not healthy or helpful. Try to change your thoughts to things you have been able to do successfully, such as arranging a mortgage holiday with your bank or keeping your family safe.
Tell the part of yourself which is being chastising to quiet down whilst you have so much to deal with as its not helping. Try to let your mind focus on the positives and try to minimise the negatives. This is not to say that you don’t have some very real problems to deal with. But also give yourself credit where it is due.
At bedtime you may benefit from avoiding looking at material about the Crisis. Instead try to think of the positive things going on in your life or the world.