Is the world going crazy in response to COVID-19?
If we define crazy as abnormal – or the opposite or absence of normal, then yes, it is. But then is it good crazy or bad crazy? I guess there is a bit of both. Is crazy even the right word to describe what is happening? It may feel crazy, but then might crazy be the more appropriate response in a time where normal would actually be inappropriate.
When events outside of our control are extraordinary, our response also needs to be extraordinary. The key thing is that our extraordinary response needs to be limited to the event that we are responding to. It would be inappropriate or crazy to act extraordinarily to everything and everyone all the time.
As humans – in fact not only just us humans, pretty much everything likes NORMAL. NORMAL is the equilibrium that keeps everything functioning as it should and as it always has. Our relationships, our families and in fact our brains like NORMAL and when abnormal happens, there is strong pressure to fight abnormal and re-establish the normal equilibrium.
How we do that is by focusing our attention and energy on re-establishing the norm. Depending on the threat, this requires varying levels of focus and commitment. In this regard we can err in two ways. Either we don’t give threat as much focus as we should, or we give the threat too much focus, at the expense of everything else that’s important.
With COVID-19, it is wise to err on the side of caution. But this pandemic and the way the world is reacting (albeit appropriate) has immense psychosocial impact. There is fear, anxiety, heightened stress, emotional distress, isolation, helplessness, economic hardship, disrupted support systems, and the list goes on. We can ask ourselves, what’s worse; COVID-19 or the reaction to it?
Never mind which is worse, they are both bad and we must carry on as best as we can. Normal in a time of crazy.
How to be normal in a time of Crazy?
1. Apply caution where caution is needed. Caution need not be paranoia and in fact, it is the one thing that will stop us from being paranoid. While we don’t know whether the person walking near us has the virus or not, we can know that we are personally taking reasonable precautions. That alone should make us feel a little more secure and that moves us away from paranoia. We are doing what we know we can do.
2. Don’t lose sight of all the NORMAL that still prevails around us. It is easy to drown in the negativity of COVID-19 and the reaction to it. Remember that we like NORMAL and the more we can hold on to it; recognize it when it stares us in the face; and engage with it whenever we can, the easier it will be to maintain a reasonable equilibrium. We have to actively seek out NORMAL whenever we can.
3. Family values. Stay close as a family and support your children. Children may not have the internal resources and psychological resilience that adults do, and they need to be supported and heard. Acknowledge their feelings and their fears. While encouraging them to exercise caution, try not to let them see your anxiety – anxiety is highly contagious. Above all, don’t forget to find and exercise NORMAL. Do fun things as a family and build on family togetherness and support.
4. Get help. If the COVID-19 negativity becomes too much and social isolation means that we find ourselves drowning in COVID-DEPRESSION, then get help. While social isolation may feel like we can’t get the help we need, that’s not true. Speak about your feelings and get support from people you trust – phone a friend. Alternatively, if things are really bad, then seek professional help. Some psychologists remain open or have online therapy available. Contact email@example.com if you don’t have your own therapist or visit mentalwellnessinterventions.co.za
Above all, exercise all the caution that is needed – that’s how we will combat COVID-19, but DO NOT lose sight of all the NORMAL that is still out there. NORMAL is not complex, it is often very simple and right in front of your eyes. It occurred to me the other day that the birds that were busy drinking form our pond are completely unaware of COVID-19 and their lives are as normal as they have always been – other than possibly fewer humans because they are socially isolating in their homes.
There is still a lot of NORMAL out there.