As the news of the Covid-19 pandemic spread like wildfire, the general public’s reactions were divided into two types: There were people who started going out with masks, stocked on supplies, medicines, sanitizers and then there was another segment that went on with their daily routines. What sets these 2 kinds of reactions apart?
Usually, in times of crisis, two major types of personality are likely to emerge:
-They tend to minimize the risk and respond to a crisis with passivity
-Likely to remain laid back amidst the pandemonium
-Have a hard time taking the current threat seriously
-They function from normalcy bias — the belief that things will function as they usually do and the understanding of circumstances through that lens, even when evidence indicates otherwise, therefore, underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects.
The only caveat is that they are likely to wait until the last minute to respond to the situation. It is okay to not go into complete panic mode but when the threat is real, it is equally important to not take the crisis lightly and take appropriate actions.
On the other end of the spectrum is the type of personality for whom uncertainty rings loud alarm bells
– Their sense of safety and security gets threatened.
– Take extra precautionary measures to feel in control in a crisis situation that has rendered them unprepared.
– It causes extreme emotional distress if they are unable to plan and be ready to face alternative scenarios.
– They can go into a state of high alert and their survival mechanisms of fight or flight might get activated which can affect their immunity and make them susceptible to illness.
Both these opposites are a large-scale representation of a pattern of thinking called Black and White or All or nothing Thinking which means thinking in extremes. There is no room for a middle ground and grey area. Example- Everything is perfect or it’s a disaster.
One end of the spectrum includes the passivity that comes with denial. In terms of the current situation, the thought pattern is Everything is fine.
On the other extreme lies the hypervigilance that comes with the need for control and certainty. Some common thoughts would be- :
- Everything is a disaster
- This is the worst that can happen
- How will we deal with this?
- It is unbearable
So, what can we do to exercise healthy concern and precaution but don’t spiral out of control in anxiety and panic?
Take measures to be self-protective and community-conscious- personal hygiene, sanitize, social distancing and check in with loved ones through call/text or video call.
That being said, limit the intake of social media to once a day from credible sources and take this time to develop a routine and practice self-care to bring structure and stability amidst the chaos and uncertainty.
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