COVID: overcoming fear and anxiety
Since the pandemic gained its greatest expression with the successive confinements that began on March 2020 in Europe, I have noticed a prevalence of phobias among many patients.
Far from wanting to discuss the epidemiology of phobias at the time of COVID, I would like to share my views on the main phobic and anxious behaviors, many conscious and others less so.
Until the "COVID event", the presence of patients with depressive or anxious symptoms was extremely frequent. Phobias cases (exaggerated fears), although also frequent, have a lower incidence in my clinical practice, compared to other emotional illnesses. With the arrival of the Chinese virus, however, I have observed a greater incidence of fear behavior among people.
From the reports brought, I have no doubt that the media exploitation of the pandemic has much more power in phobic symptoms than the epidemiological knowledge disseminated by scientific societies. Television and, above all, social media on the Internet have become a real sewer of emotions and users are the deposits that drain from such sewers.
By losing the ability to filter information or even interrupting the flow of information, people become multipliers of media codes of fear and anxiety. Such codes are exploited in a sensational way by various media as a way of capturing an audience.
The problem is that the symptoms of phobia and anxiety remain even when patients turn off their electronic equipment. I invariably hear people with intense fear of what may happen, fear of being contaminated, fear of death, fear of going hungry, in short, fears that, together with the anxiety triggered by confinements, lead people to intense feelings of panic.
The formula is this: intense fear plus intense anxiety results in panic. A panic attack is an immediate sensation of death or near death, an experience of extraordinary emotional suffering.
Dealing with the current COVID scenario in a healthy way requires some highly emotional intelligence attitudes:
* Create and maintain a good vision of the future: imagine the dreams, plans and achievements you deserve and want to achieve, be they professional and / or personal.
* Maintain high self-esteem, always privileging the best view of yourself and your value in the world.
* Establish partnerships and network of relationships that add value, either due to the quality of the people involved but also due to the high level of shared content, in person or online.
* Put quantifiable goals in life, in the present time, and pursue those goals, however simple they may be.
* Continually giving thanks for the good things in life, for the bad things (which can teach you) and for the bad things that don't even happen happily.
* Meditate constantly to improve internal communication between the rational and emotional dimensions of the personality.
* Constantly exercising forgiveness through mercy.
To boost such attitudes, consider using tools such as self-hypnosis. Remember that the process of behavioral change occurs in the will-see-allow triad. I have taught many people to create hypnotic suggestions (self-suggestions) that reduce the incidence of phobic and anxious symptoms.
We will certainly go through this moment and with the proper emotional intelligence it is possible to overcome with the least possible suffering.
Dr. Márcio Moraes
Psychologist and Hypnotherapist with 20 years of experience.
American Psychological Association
Federal Council of Psychology of Brazil
Portuguese Psychologists Association
European Federation of Psychologists' Associations