During the pandemic, the world has become so consumed by fear that it has made people behave a lot more aggressively and basically loose their sh*t. I want to address the repercussions of COVID and the development of coronaphobia.
Recently I was up in London visiting some friends for a birthday shindig. We had had an absolutely fabulous night out, reconnecting, and making new friends. I was on the tube back to where I was staying with 2 other people of which one of us wasn’t wearing a mask. She does have a medical exemption due to asthma so it was fine.
Anyway, this random woman got on the train and sat next to the other 2 across from me. She leaned forward and saw the one girl wasn’t wearing a mask and got up and moved 4 seats down the train. After I looked at her and basically shrugged my shoulders as if to say ‘Alright then’, she completely lost it. Shouting and screaming at us, saying ‘How many people have you killed from COVID’ and stuff like that. My one friend started filming her because it was, for lack of a better word, abuse. She then launched at him scratching and flailing for the phone, screaming bloody murder.
I’m telling you this story to demonstrate just what fear has done to our society. A complete stranger loosing her sh*t at us for something as simple as not wearing a mask on an almost empty train.
Coronaphobia – An excessive triggered response of fear of contracting the virus causing COVID-19.
I was shocked to find an actual phobia condition that has developed as a result of COVID-19. Yet, when I thought about it and the reaction of the woman on the train, I’m not actually surprised. This condition has 3 affected areas to it.
- Psychological – The fight/flight response is always heightened, constant worry of symptoms such as palpitations, tremors, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, change in appetite, and sleep. These mess with your mental health and leave you anxious 24/7.
- Cognitive – Being consumed by thoughts like ‘I will die if I get this virus’ or ‘I may become unemployed if I get the virus and then can’t provide for my family’ trigger emotional responses such as sadness, stress and anger. (Hence the violent reaction of the woman on the train).
- Behavioural – Coronaphobia has a profound impact on our behaviour. It has been known to cause people to become fearful of using public transport, attend events or in some extreme circumstances even leave the house at all. In the case of the woman on the train, fear caused her to react violently towards us.
How to tell the difference between Coronaphobia and general anxiety
Lily Brown PHD, director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, states that more people wonder if their anxiety level about COVID-19 is normal or too high. She suggests using your pandemic behaviour as a marker.
She asks, ‘Are you able to carry out day to day activities that leads to a relatively fulfilled life? Are you able to connect with other people?’
Brown says. “Oftentimes, what happens when people have anxiety disorders is their anxiety starts to spill over so that it increasingly becomes more and more challenging to follow through on their obligations and get their needs met.” If you find yourself finding it difficult to complete your tasks and meeting your commitments due to extreme fear of catching the virus, you may be bordering on coronaphobic. There are plenty of places where you can get help treat this condition.
Who is most at risk?
Research shows that women in general are showing more anxiety towards the virus than men. Boy it sucks to be a woman sometimes, am I right? Also, the younger generation have been known to be more anxious about it because of the uncertainty the virus produces in our futures.
“[Youngsters] in particular should really be on the lookout for whether they start to experience any of that functional impairment,” Brown says. “And if they are, it may be good to reach out for additional support.”
Consuming social media too much and taking in too much media and news is not healthy. It will only increase your anxiety. Limit the amount you consume on a daily basis.
Managing anxiety and the fall out of the pandemic
For the Northern hemisphere, we are heading into winter again and this brings worries of another lockdown. The virus seems to flourish in colder temperatures. This can cause in an increase in anxiety towards the upcoming season. If you need a bit of help to get through and onto the other side of your anxiety, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most effective therapy method in treating anxiety. There is no shame in asking for help. I was in therapy for 2 years and am nothing but proud of myself for accepting the help I needed.
Make sure you are looking after your physical well-being as well as your mental. The endorphins released following any form of exercise help improve your mental state. Also eating the right foods will ensure your body is running at it’s optimum giving you a stronger immune system and higher chance of getting through the other side even if you do get the virus.
You may also like – More ways to de-stress and relax
The impact that encounter on the train had on me was very profound. I have no animosity for the woman who attacked us. If anything, all I feel is compassion for the fear she must be feeling. I am not saying her behaviour was acceptable because it wasn’t. But it came from a place of coronaphobia and that fear manifested violently. Compassion is not something that always came naturally to me, but during these times, we all need it towards each other because the world is a very messed up place at the moment.
Have you experienced any major encounters as a result of fear (be it from the pandemic or another situation altogether)? Has fear had a profound effect on you during the pandemic? Have you noticed a vast/small difference to your behaviour since COVID hit?
This subject sat heavy on my heart since the encounter on the train and I wanted to share a bit about how it happened, the psychology behind the reaction and why. I’d love to hear about any differences you have noticed since the world found itself in this state.
Until next time…