Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, more and more countries are resorting to such drastic measures as curfews or a ban on leaving home for people at high risk. We decided to study how quarantine measures affect a person’s mental health and whether social media can replace live communication during a period of home isolation.
Different quarantine measures should be evaluated differently. We know that quarantine as an extreme measure of isolation can indeed lead to violations in the human psyche, including in absolutely normal people. Long-term studies show that even after a long time after quarantine has been removed, the likelihood of violations related to fears, sleep disorders or post-traumatic stress remains high. Moreover, the gender and age of the patients, in this case, do not matter. That is why such measures should be resorted to only when they are inevitable and always limit them in time.
Now about the new phenomenon of social distance. In terms of infectiousness, the coronavirus is somewhere between very infectious measles and less infectious seasonal flu. Several scientific studies have already been published on how they reacted to the spread of coronavirus in different countries of the world, primarily in China. And it was proved that maintaining a certain physical distance between people, indeed, can help significantly slow down the spread of infection.
Moreover, the expression “social distance” is not entirely accurate. It would be more accurate to say “physical distance”, which is not the same thing. On the one hand, one can act like Italians – to talk through balconies or sing songs together in order to communicate with each other, even when isolated. But, living in the century of digital communications, during the quarantine period due to the coronavirus, one can also use modern technologies to overcome the social distance, preserving the physical.
In today’s situation, social networks really make it possible to stay connected. It should be remembered that in social networks you should not spend the whole day and trust everything that is distributed in them. I think that the phone remains the best communication channel because you are talking directly to the person you are talking to and you are not bathed in an endless stream of fake news overwhelming the Internet. Twitter and Facebook are less suitable for this.
Even under quarantine, social networks can only partially replace live communication.
A person does not benefit from communication with a large number of strangers to him, which often happens on social networks. Communication through some means of communication works best when a person communicates with someone he knows well: parents, grandparents, best friends.
Scientists discovered for the first time in 2009 that loneliness is contagious by analyzing the vast array of information collected by observing a whole village. In principle, these conclusions have been known to psychologists for a long time. Because humans are social beings, they can infect each other with their emotional states. Therefore, now you should minimize communication with people, after which you have a feeling of spiritual severity or sadness. Just as people with weakened immune systems should avoid unnecessary contacts so as not to become infected with the virus, people who are sensitive to the emotional states of their interlocutors should reduce such communication in order to protect their mental health.
Life consists of continuous movement and change. This is a given. Contact with stress factors makes us both more stable and able to respond adaptively to the situation. However, what is happening in the world now is very large-scale and global in essence; there is practically no person who would not be affected by this situation in one way or another.
Therefore, in such a period, it is very important to be aware of what is happening inside you. Understanding your processes is also part of the defense. It is important to pay attention to how exactly this situation affects you. What feelings do you feel at the moment: fear, despair, indifference, anxiety, anger, sadness? Do you not feel anything? Feelings are a guide and help to understand what to do next.
For example, if you are afraid, then what exactly are you most afraid of? Has this already happened or did you just imagine? How and how do you scare yourself? What will you do if it becomes part of your reality? Do you have a plan? Expressing feelings, paying attention to them and understanding their internal processes, it is easier to build a “line of defense.” That is why we are starting to share with each other, with those whom we trust and from whom we can get support. Indeed, the recognition of the right to feel is already an important step.
In any case, with a repeated alarm, you need a plan. And a few primary steps: take a break if you feel increasing anxiety. Concentrate on something else. It may not be just because of frightening thoughts. But this is a great practice. Eliminate irritants, find a quiet place and think about something outside, distract yourself. We can influence our thoughts. If you control them, the physical manifestations of anxiety will also decrease. Ask for support if it’s really hard for you. This is what makes us human.
If you still have a lot of anxiety inside, look for a way to actively express it. Let it out. Scream. Cry. Sing it. Move around. Vacuum the apartment. Dance to tiredness. It will not last long, your body will get tired, and the passions will subside.
These and many other methods can reduce the degree of anxiety. There are many ways – you need to choose your own.
Each has an individual threshold of fear. Afraid of contracting a coronavirus, some buy food several weeks in advance and lock the door of their house. Others claim that the coronavirus does not interest them at all, and continue to meet with friends and live a full life. To be honest, the last group scares even more than the first. Indeed, today it is important to understand that the danger of coronavirus is real.
But still, there are more positive-minded people, especially now, when everyone needs support, people have begun to show more empathy. People began to talk to each other more often. Over the past four weeks, the phrase “Stay healthy” has evolved into a traditional farewell. And these are not empty words. People take this wish very seriously.
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