Thoughts on COVID-19

Current situation is difficult for a lot of us due to social isolation, fear of unknown and possible contamination. Objectively speaking, we have no control if something bad or good will happen to us or not. By the way “good” and “bad” are just mental constructs – neutral things that we attach some meaning to.

What we focus on – grows.

If we focus on negative things, they become our reality and this reality creates negative experiences or feelings. If we repeat this pattern frequently it becomes our habit. That’s why it is so important to pay attention to things that are positive and count our blessings. It doesn’t really matter if what you say to yourself it true or not because our brain cannot differentiate reality from what we imagine. From biological stand point we have the same physiological reactions to real and imaginary situations. So why we are so scared? Look at this from this perspective: people die in car accidents, have heart attacks, are killed in school or churches etc. We don’t think about it every day because we are able to create an illusion of control. Going to work, having routines and dealing with daily challenges help us to keep our minds occupied. That’s way social distancing or isolation is so challenging for many of us. We feel forced to do things differently. Forced by fear that something bad will happen: someone will die, we will run out of supplies, our jobs are going to be impacted etc. It is irrational fear because we do not have control over these things. It will be much easier to let go and start forming new routines and habits in order to regain control but negative feelings bring negative thoughts and these thoughts intensify the feeling. Ruminations lead to depression and drain us. On average people experience 70K thoughts per day. Most of these thoughts are negative and repetitive!

A lot of us feel desperate or shocked because we are losing the only world we know – the world that we created through generations is taken by the “invisible enemy”. What is “virus”? – an abstract phenomenon that kills people. Suddenly all that seemed to be important became marginal: political debates, future plans, social issues. We are left with sorrow and anger. On top of that we are bombarded by news and constant remainders about our mortality: we can even track numbers of people who die from COVID-19, watch them suffering in hospitals and watch videos of coffins transported through streets of Italy by tanks. There are also positive news but we tend to pay attention to the negative ones. Restrictions are imposed on us and we worry that our freedom was taken away and we are prisoners in our own homes.

Hopefully, a year from now, we will realize that this terrible situation was just a moment in history – a transition to something new, maybe better but it is difficult to look at it from this perspective at the moment. Thankfully people are very resilient. We will create new routines and develop new illusion of control to feel safe and purposeful. Let’s remember small numbers add up. By working together we can make a difference and crate the world we so much wanted.

What can help?

  • accept your fear – it’s okay to feel that way
  • try to focusing on positive stories
  • focus on things that you can control
  • bull your vision board
  • connect with people online
  • share your thoughts and feelings
  • use humor
  • take care of yourself
  • practice healthy life style.

Dr. Ewa J. Antczak
March 20, 2020

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