Denial. The “I don’t think I got exposed, that’s someone else” tendency. The fear of hospital, illness and contagion become more fully a part of life as the denial has lifted.
Giving in to a rational paranoia. Contacts everywhere are being cut to the bare minimum. We all wash hands obsessively. Having to inhabit these highly vigilant, fearful ways of being is stressful all round.
Rational worrying. We’re all miserable at times, locked into news cycles and thinking through endless scenarios about “what might happen”. Our minds are grappling to predict an uncertain future. We can’t blame them for that. We are trying to keep up with a rapidly changing, risky world.
Fumbling to overcome social habits. It’s natural, under normal times, to talk together with people you know or people you meet. In normal times, you touch your face. I’ve found the constricted new normal difficult to adjust to, and I think most of us have. We’re all dealing with alienation now in the broadest sense: we’re dealing with alienation from norms, from each other and from the world around us.
Boredom/Clautrophobia. Claustrophobia is already the most difficult aspect of this enforced isolation. Many of us are struggling with this, and suddenly the digital world is providing the other people, and other spaces, that we need. Connection, albeit digital, is the natural antidote for much of what we’re missing.
Gratitude for the digital world. We have our own viral ways of passing information, stories, humour and love between us. We have online communication that allows us to continue to work, talk and be together. Frequently, in more normal times, I work with people who struggle with social media and how fast-changing technologies have left them feeling inadequate or isolated, but now a definite gratitude is emerging around our digital world. Who’d have thought that the digital world would become the most intimate space in so many peoples’ lives?
Worrying for isolated individuals. I worry at the moment for physically vulnerable people, but I also worry deeply for the psychologically vulnerable. The day to day environment for everyone has radically changed since distancing was implemented. If you’re already isolated or struggling with issues around loneliness or intimacy, if you live alone, this is a doubly difficult time.
Anxiety needs an outlet. Try not to lean solely upon indulgent crutches. Keep space for online conversation, for exercise, art, gaming and experimentation. You need a variety of ways to cope, so give yourself permission to do so. These are extraordinary times, so take extraordinary time to deeply engage with what and who you love.
Humour. Treasure humour. Humour is anxiety’s banana skin. Trip it up when you can. Games, online hangouts and a variety of media can bring a giggle within reach.
Futility. Feelings of hopelessness and futility can beset us at times like these, and this is very understandable. Focussing on the small things, the things that are close by in our rapidly shrinking worlds can provide some relief. Projects can be a great place to put all that anxious energy, and regular calls to loved ones can help you stay connected and tethered. Your mind is liable to dwell on what you cannot control, so remember to return to what is tangible and within your ability to interact and influence.