Psychological Reaction Caused by the Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19)
Uncertainty caused by COVID-19The recent situation caused by the novel Corona virus (COVID-19) has covered the world with uncertainty. We do not know how long the epidemic prevention measures would last. Uncertainty evokes anxiety. If this uncertainty would turn into some certainty, our anxiety would reduce. In fact, one major purpose of science is to transform uncertain fear into calculatable risk. Under this purpose, researchers are urgently collecting scientific data and analyzing them. Yet, the scientific knowledge of COVID-19 remains insufficient at this time.
Under this condition, reckless collection of information to reduce your anxiety could lead to unnecessary beliefs from the "fake-news" or unverified preventive measures. You should be aware that most social network systems contain an algorithm which leads you to the contents which you wish to read. This algorithm could put you into a cluster of biased information. To distinguish reliable information and to go through the primary scientific paper is required to acquire correct information. Your academic and internet literacy is tested here.
Taming your AnxietyYou may think that anxiety is a troublesome emotion and should be removed or eliminated when possible. Though, anxiety is actually a helpful emotion. Having anxiety has helped us to escape from danger and to survive. Anxiety is a warning sign showing us to "prepare or else you will encounter danger". All students should have had an anxiety such as; "prepare for the exam or else you will drop your credit".
For the anxiety to function as a warning sign, the amount of anxiety has to be moderate. When it exceeds a certain limit, it would overtake you and take away all the ability you should have. In this kind of circumstance, all the effort of removing the anxiety could result in being too conscious to the anxiety itself and increasing the effect of it. It is important to stand back on the premise that anxieties are not to be completely removed but to be tamed. Under this premise, you should try measures to reduce your anxiety to a moderate amount. Revaluating your thoughts, whether the thoughts leading to anxiety is reasonable or not, is one way of reducing your anxiety. Disclosing your anxiety to others is another way of reducing your anxiety. Anxiety is a fundamental emotion for humans and is never to be ashamed of.
Virus as an invisible objectAnother feature of the novel Corona virus is that it is invisible. Conducting PCR tests may be a way to visualize the individuals being infected and to perform epidemic preventions, but the virus itself could not be visualized unless through an electronic microscope. This invisible feature of the virus increases our anxiety.
The difficulty for us to objectify an invisible virus could alter some emotions that should be pointed toward the virus to a different object (We term this alternation as "Displacement" in the field of psychology). We should especially be aware when this displacement occurs with anger.
Deeper insight into your angerYou may be having some anger that the policies taken by the government or the University are inadequate. Though, under the condition that the knowledge of COVID-19 remains unclear, it would be difficult to define whether the policies are adequate or not. When this kind of anger is emerging inside you, it would be better to check whether the anger which should be pointed toward the virus is displaced or not. Displacement could occur not only to the government or the University but to your close family members or friends.
Some psychologists refer anger as a secondary emotion. Emotions such as anxiety, disappointment, regrets or insecurity are the primary emotions and anger is an expression of these primary emotions. Expressing anger, though, do not lead to a solution in most cases. When you realize anger evolving inside you, it may be helpful to have a deeper insight to find the background primary emotion of it.
Virus as an uncontrollable objectIn spite of all the epidemic preventive policies, we still do not know how and when the pandemic would end and could evoke our feeling that the situation is uncontrollable. When we are put in an uncontrollable situation, we feel overwhelmed and powerless. The world that seemed meaningful could turn into a meaningless one.
Control only what you canIn this kind of a situation, it is important to first distinguish between what is controllable and what is uncontrollable. It would be impossible for an ordinary individual to control the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 and the critical fall of the stock market due to it. To distinguish between what is controllable and not, and to control what you can is important for mental health.
From the epidemic preventive point of view, standard precautions such as washing/sanitizing your hand and avoiding crowds in an enclosed space are the preventive actions which an individual could take. If you are overwhelmed from all the negative news of COVID-19, intentionally sparing time to keep yourself away from them is effective.
What is most important is to value your pleasurable time. Though there are many restrictions due to the preventions, try to find any kind of activity that would pleasure you under the restriction and cherish it. Eating your favorite food, immersing yourself to your favorite music, spending more time with your family are simple examples.
It is natural and common to develop many kinds of psychological reaction in this critical situation. It is also natural that most of the psychological reaction could be overcome by your resilient ability. Though, if you feel that your emotions are overtaking you, never hesitate to contact the Advising & Counseling Services.