The corona virus brings its own stress. How can we deal with that? Annemiek Leclaire spoke to experts in the field of stress and anxiety and gave a few tips.

Waking up at night, during the day a feeling of uneasy restlessness, trouble concentrating, and a mild form of underground anxiety that occasionally flashes up as irritation. Corona, the virus that literally hangs in the air as a danger, brings its own stress.

Practical steps

There are concerns about one's own and other people's health, but also about secondary consequences: what will it mean for my work, my education, the operation that is not going through now, my wallet?

To help manage the panic surrounding Covid-19, the World Health Organization published guidelines last week to protect common mental health. This was the advice, not to look at news that makes you anxious or sad, but mainly to look for information to take practical steps. It was also advised to share the positive stories and positive images of people who have already experienced the coronavirus - such as the films that go around the world of the singing Italian population and the applause from balconies for health workers.
Due to the absence of boats, fish can again be seen in the canals of Venice and Egyptian geese families walk at Tel Aviv airport.

The right preparations

Psychiatrist Witte: We are built for this type of threat, which hangs around us for a long time, which is on the one hand a little bit concrete because we all know a little bit about what a virus is, but at the same time it is fairly abstract because we cannot see who is infected. '

He compares the tension we feel to that of a herd of animals surrounded by a pair of cheetahs that do not attack. According to him, alertness ensures that we can quickly make everything better, such as hygiene measures and keeping the necessary distance.

Loss of basic safety
Sleeping well, washing hands, not touching your face, not meeting in groups; Rationally considering what we can do to prevent contamination of ourselves and others gives a sense of control. That is important, according to Iris Engelhard, as a professor of clinical psychology specializing in anxiety and trauma.

That loss of basic safety now affects us all. If we don't feel control, a sense of powerlessness can turn into panicky herd behavior like the storming of a supermarket. Then the urge to seek control becomes part of the problem instead of the solution. '

However, according to Engelhard there is also a paradoxical edge. Research found that people who washed their hands for a week developed a mild form of fear of blemish compared to the control group who did not.

So, security measures in themselves can make things a bit more fearful. She compares it to the discomfort at the sight of heavily protected stations. 'That does not alter the fact that we can ward off the worst consequences with those security measures. We do all that when it is right. That solidarity with others also strengthens us. "

Predictability and control

Social and personal mayhem is further fueled by the ever-changing information about the effects and prevention of the virus, intersected by fake news and opportunistic horns.

As laymen who have not seen a microscope up close since high school, can we now rely on the expertise of the authorities or should we follow the warnings of the respected columnist who claims otherwise? Or does the latter also fall prey to irrationality?

Due to the changeability of the information, the feeling of predictability perishes, which is exactly what we need in crises like this, according to Engelhard. "Predictability and control ensure that we get a better grip on an uncertain situation."

Psychiatrist Witte Hoogendijk calls this 'the stress of the modern age' that crosses our useful animal instincts. According to him, we are just not built on what is coming at us through the media. “Not only the constantly contradictory information upsets us, but also all the nasty stories on top of it, such as the horrible testimonies from the Northern Italian hospitals. We used to know that and we were not uneasy about it. "

Adverse effect

So rationing that reporting, say the two experts. Check the latest news no more than three times a day in order not to let yourself and your housemates go crazy. It is also good to choose only a few sites with reliable information, such as the website of the government or the NIH, and to ignore the sensational media.
That's worth it because chronic stress can weaken physical resistance.

Wrap Up

What also helps to deal with the unrest are exercise, distraction and social contacts. The body experiences advantages with outside air and exercise. 'Go for a walk in your lawn, do relaxation exercises, which can now also be done via online channels. Eat healthily. And just stick to the guidelines of the Health Council.

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