March 20, 2020
Below we highlight the measures suggested by the Arun Mansukhani (Malaga) psychologists’ cabinet.
PSYCHOLOGICAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Given the exceptional situation imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we want to share some reflections and indications aimed at helping us to maintain emotional and psychological balance. First of all, there are two important elements in this situation that affect people’s emotional balance:
1. The perception of risk.
2. Isolation situations imposed by quarantine.
Regarding RISK PECEPCTION, it must be said that it is too high in the population given the objective situation in which we find ourselves. It must be remembered that our mind does not objectively process the situation, but uses a series of heuristics or «shortcuts». Thus, due to the amount of information circulating about the virus, the disease, the count of the victims, etc., our mind, due to the accessibility and impact heuristic, tends to «think» that the risk is much greater than what it is.
This causes our brains to go into “defense” mode and do things like gathering food (unnecessary) or, as we are seeing in the USA. in recent days, an increase in arms sales.
Excessive fear generally leads people to make non-rational decisions. This high perception of risk also increases anxiety, hypochondriacal thoughts, fear of contact with others, etc. In addition, in extreme cases, if people feel helpless, they can abandon the healthy behaviors that must be carried out to reasonably prevent infection.
To avoid this, it is important to:
1. Not being connected all the time and being informed of the evolution of the pandemic. It is better to choose a reliable source and get information once a day (on the mid-day news for example) or two at the most. The rest of the time, spend doing or thinking about things not related to the pandemic.
2. Contextualize the information (relating the number of deaths with those of other diseases, such as the flu, helps to provide that context) and relating the negative information to the positive (number of people who died and the number of people who have overcome the infection, for example).
3. Pay attention to the specific indications that reliable sources give us about how we should proceed and what are the reasonable protective behaviors. Focus on carrying out those healthy and logical behaviors.
4. Keep busy with scheduled activities throughout the day (see next section).
5. Remember that most people will be asymptomatic or with mild symptoms and that what we are really trying to do is slow down the contagion curve so as not to collapse the health systems. The goal is not so much not to contract the coronavirus as to prevent its rapid expansion. Most of us will have Covid-19, or maybe already have it, and it will not be a serious risk to your health.
Regarding the situations that arise from INSULATION:
1. It is very important to maintain a routine that includes: hours of sleep and adequate rest, adequate food (it may be necessary to reduce a little due to the decrease in physical activity) and, very important, physical exercise. There are many videos and tutorials available on the web for this purpose.
2. Limit the number of hours per day in front of screens. Greatly limit the search for information on the Covid-19 (see previous section).
3. Have, if possible, short periods a day of sun exposure and clarity, even through glass. It is important for the assimilation of vitamin D and the immune system, as well as for the circadian rhythm.
4. Maintain adequate daily personal hygiene and dress while maintaining a good appearance, even if one is not going to leave home.
5. Maintain social contact (calls, video calls, etc.) with friends and family. Participate in group sessions through the different programs and applications that allow it (Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Jitsi Meet, Facetime, etc).
6. Schedule activities and times to do them throughout the day (reading, yoga, etc.), not making them depend on the mood of each moment.
7. Do activities at home with family members: games, sports, etc.
8. Get used to this slower pace in general; remember that certain doses of boredom are good for the mind.
9. Think about the activities that must be done day by day, not discounting the remaining days so that the quarantine ends.
10. Feeling that we are part of a community, that we are all in this together, feeling the support of others, even from a distance. Participate in as many group activities as possible to increase this feeling (go out to clap on the balcony, for example).
11. Remember that we are facing an exceptional and unique situation, that we have never lived before and that we may not live again. Take advantage of this time that they have given us to do things that we would otherwise not find time to do at home: read, paint, order, etc.
We hope that these simple guidelines help you spend this quarantine time better.
Prepared by the Arun Mansukhani Psychologists Team.
www.arunmansukhani.com ● (+34) 607803803 ● Alameda Principal, 21. 5a planta. 29001, Malaga.