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Why the pandemic of fear is at least as worrying as Coronavirus itself

You might have noticed that I’m posting this blog series ‘early’ – I normally post on the first weekend of the month – but I felt it was important to make a response to the current situation – one that focuses on wellbeing – in this time of uncertainty. I will be sharing the article in ‘bite-sized’ chunks, but if you’d like to read it in its entirety, please click here.

The implications of Coronavirus are starting to hit home, and for me this means that face-to-face bookings are being cancelled or replaced by online working. As a self-employed person, I completely understand how this can trigger fears and leave us feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under our feet! So what can we do as anxiety threatens to take a hold and we feel at risk of being caught up in the rising tide of panic?

Let me start by saying that I’m not in any way meaning to make light of Coronavirus, the many cases of people suffering with Covid-19, or the deaths around the world.  It’s obviously a very real and present challenge that we’re all facing and it’s good to be aware, and conscious in our responses.  But therein lies the issue: I don’t think our current reactions are being fully aware and conscious.  Those that I’m seeing are mostly coming from fear.  Fear can push us into ‘blind panic’ where our field of vision literally shrinks, and we see through a filter that’s looking only for threats.  This is a natural response, which is aimed at keeping us safe from danger.  It worked well when we lived in caves and the threats were physical things, like a predator or lack of safe shelter, however it often doesn’t serve us so well in our modern world.

Being in this state of ‘fight or flight’ is very stressful on the body.  It causes chemical changes in our cells which can be toxic over time, impacting on our immune system and making us more prone to disease.  Even if we don’t think that we’re stressed, these chemicals can be building up in our body.  As Dr Gabor Maté says in his book ‘When The Body Says No’:

“Stress is a psychological response to a perceived treat, physical or emotional, whether or not the individual is immediately aware of the perception.”

Our response to the Coronavirus threat has been to withdraw from contact from others, to wash our hands repeatedly, to use sanitiser gel regularly and to stockpile food and other items.  Wow!  This list is beginning to sound like a case of OCD and hoarding!

By all means, take reasonable precautions with hygiene, but please also be aware that overuse of these chemicals can result in bugs that are resistant.  Remember, too, that the chemicals have an impact on our bodies, as well as on the bugs, as all chemicals do.  It’s also worth noting that living in an overly ‘sterile’ environment is not good for our immune system:

In addition, did you know that it’s now thought that social isolation may bring greater health risks than smoking or obesity?! ( )

Tomorrow I’ll be looking at a different perspective on dis-ease, and looking at how the body responds to stress.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or if your anxiety is being triggered and you’d like someone to talk to, please get in touch:

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