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How to Deal with Anxiety During the Pandemic

Five questions to discuss with yourself

© iStock

Irina Makarova, Director of the HSE Centre for Psychological Counselling, discusses the conditions we can face when living under a pandemic and the experience we can gain from them.

Irina Makarova

Director of the HSE Centre for Psychological Counselling

The rapidly changing situation with COVID-19, as well as with quarantine and isolation measures cannot leave us unaffected psychologically. Each of us experiences the circumstances and reacts in our own way. Some ignore them, some are worried and scared, some feel offended and angry and are looking for someone to blame, and some are hoarding in panic and isolating themselves from the world.

Looking at this diversity, it is difficult to give universal advice for everyone. But I’ll try to talk about several key moments that are worth thinking about, regardless of the category in which you may fall.

We are scared by the information, not the virus

We are strongly affected not as much by the spread of the virus spread, but by the deluge of information we are experiencing.

This is not a piece of local news, but an information avalanche that destroys everything in its path. We cannot influence it, but we can plan and control our involvement in this whirlpool.

We should remember that it is we who control the input of information in our lives. Revise your news sources. It is good to do this regardless of COVID, but if you haven’t thought about it before, now is a good time.

Ambiguity is harder than the hardship

We are worried and annoyed not only by the inconveniences brought by the virus in our lives, but the fact that nobody knows when this is going to end. Ambiguity is pressing and disorienting. It is very difficult to deal with it. That’s why it is important to remember that we are living here and now, not just waiting for this to come to its end.

A chance to talk to yourself

Routine, deadlines, and endless lists of things to do – this is what our lives used to be just yesterday. There was no room for stopping and thinking about some essential things. What is important for me in life? What do I want? What do I like? If not for the circumstances and responsibilities, what would I like to do in my life?

Maybe, today is a good time to think about these things. And then, ask yourself the question: what could I do right now for myself, for my life?

Opportunity to get counseling

What if your inner dialogue finds no resolution and comes to a deadlock? Probably, it’s high time to get professional help and contact a therapist.

At the Centre for Psychological Counselling, there is almost no queue for counselling today, and you don’t even have to come: under the extreme conditions of the quarantine, the Centre has started to work online.

Time to listen to yourself

Today’s situation is a test of our minds’ adaptation capabilities. The following aspects of our mental health are under pressure:

  • Danger – security
  • Certainty – uncertainty
  • Control – loss of control
  • Limitation (presence of boundaries) – boundlessness

Try to take advantage of this situation and understand how your mind works: what has it done well? Where is it failing? It is also interesting what resources are used to solve the tasks of adaptation. How do these resources work? Is it possible to make this work more effective? These questions can also be discussed during psychological counseling.

March 24, 2020