Some Emotional Themes of the Coronavirus Crisis
Alexandra Field M.Counselling; P.Grad.Dip(Nat); P.Grad.Dip(WHM) M.A.C.A
Over the past few weeks I have noticed a range of emotional themes in my social world and within my clinical practice, as we have grappled to make sense of the unfolding global crisis. It has also been an intense and confusing time for many, as we have had to change the way we work and live, quickly and significantly. In this article I will briefly share some of what I have noticed from the emotional realm.
To begin with let’s clarify that emotions are reactions that arise in response to internal or external stimuli. And these are different to feelings. Feelings are a self-perception of specific emotions. Emotions can be conscious or unconscious and often understanding them can be helpful in allowing us to have compassion for our community and for ourselves.
The first wave of emotions that were felt by many were anxiety, fear and panic. For anyone with a history of anxiety or trauma these feelings may have been unwelcome reminders of past triggers. While for others they may have been experienced as unfamiliar bodily sensations or feelings that were uncomfortable and unsettling.
Anxiety and fear are primal responses to danger, and they are useful in helping us find ways to keep ourselves safe in the face of danger. This is what helps us as a species to survive, but when fear takes over, then logic and self-control diminish. You will have certainly seen this in the media with the compulsion to panic buy, the need to hoard and bunker down.
I think what has also compounded this crisis is that we can’t see the virus, in other words we cannot see the danger as it approaches us. For some they will stay primed and ready for danger, which if you stay in this state for too long will put pressure on your mental and physical health. There are many ways to help settle this part of you, so please contact Remede and make an appointment to see me, if this is happening to you.
Week One #stayhome
Once we were told to stay home there was an initial shock and then a reduction in coronavirus anxiety. This was in part due to the government implementing guidelines and effectively taking away the need for us to make these difficult decisions, therefore giving us a rest from the excessive mind chatter of what we should or should not be doing.
There was a felt sense of novelty, which provided a welcome distraction to the severity of what we were seeing in other parts of the world. This novelty kept our energies up and our minds defended and focused on the task at hand of staying home.
Empathy was on the rise.
Week Two #stayhome
We realised, and social media reflected this too, the need to create structure and routine in order to survive lockdown (I prefer the term homebound). There was a felt sense of loss of what we couldn’t do, while at the same time a surprising explosion of novel and creative ways of keeping certain routines going, albeit from within your own home.
The reality that these restrictions would be in place for a while began to dawn on people, and many started to grieve what was once taken for granted.
Grief was on the rise.
Week Three #stayhome
Feelings were much closer to the surface for many, and without the usual ‘keeping busy’ strategies in place people were having to sit with these feelings, both the comfortable and the uncomfortable ones.
Guilt was on the rise, for not achieving this, that, or the other.
Week Four #stayhome
Exhaustion or varying degrees of tiredness were observed this week. The body can only stay on alert for so long before it needs to rest and recuperate. Also there was a sense of uncertainty as to how long this would actually go on for.
Next will likely be the frustration and anger phase. However, this is where knowledge is power, because if we can notice our emotions and feel our feelings in a self-aware way, then we can choose how we respond, particularly to the more uncomfortable emotions and feelings.
To respond rather than react to our feelings is where our power lies, because our emotions and feelings, like our thoughts can be very useful at informing us of the choices or actions we might need to take. In uncertain times noticing and checking in with ourselves more regularly is useful, as it helps to identify what we might need in order to feel more calm/peaceful/ok-with-uncertainty/grounded/centred.
Twenty years ago, I started teaching Mindfulness, whilst living in Egypt, as a way of helping people overcome their fears, by paying attention to their thoughts, emotions and feelings. Mindfulness has stood the test of time, and is now widely researched and accepted in the world of mental health (see table below). However, what is important is finding your own personal style of mindfulness, one that you are drawn to practicing regularly.
Mindfulness is the foundation of the personalised five-week program I launched earlier this year at Remede. This evidence-based program is easy to use and designed to help you create healthy habits and routines, which once in place will optimise your mental health in a proactive way.
Mindfulness is the quality of being present
Mindfulness is paying attention
- On Purpose
- Without Judgement
We can be mindful of our
- Inner world of thoughts & Emotions
- Of our surroundings
Mindfulness helps us to respond rather than react. Mindfulness helps us cultivate Self-Awareness
A Step by Step Guide to Improving the Health of Your Mind
Post-COVID, Post-COVID Stress
Alex is offering this 5 week program which includes:
- 5 x therapy sessions.
- A comprehensive & informative online presentation, that shares with you the evidence-based research and ‘how to follow’ the program (pre-recorded & presented by me!)
- Step by step guide check list.
Investment: 5 x Counselling Sessions with Alex Field, the program outline and check-list valued at $500 (payable in one or two instalments, offer valid until 31st May, 2020).
To make an appointment call 9286 1166 or for more information about the program contact email@example.com
What this program can help with as a direct result to COVID-19:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Emotional Regulation Issues
- Stress Management
- Parenting Challenges
- Low Self-Esteem & Self-Worth Issues
- Grief and Loss
- Life Transitions
- Weight & Body Image Issues