During a crisis situation such as our current Coronavirus pandemic; fear of the unknown creates innumerable stressors in every area of one’s life. The earmark that signifies a pandemic is the fact it is a global crisis, it is highly contagious, and infection has a higher than normal mortality rate. Additionally, a pandemic affects every country, demographic, nationality, ethnicity, gender and age group and there is no cure, antidote or vaccination developed yet to stop, or even retard the spread of the virus.
Uncertainty, fuels fear-based behavior, irrational decisions and catastrophized thinking. Fear is further fueled by how little the scientific community knows about the origin and genetic make-up of the Coronavirus. For this reason everyone is susceptible to irrational behavior and fear-based behavior. Humans are creatures of habit. We seek normalcy and can only process and integrate so much chaos, confusion and misinformation before we go into information overload. The speed at which the Coronavirus is spreading, and the daily policy changes, which are a moving target at best, all add to the already mounting fear. Taken together all this uncertainty is overwhelming.
It is easy enough to slide into isolation during difficult times, especially if we are required to shelter in place. Loneliness and isolation breed more loneliness and isolation, but of greater concern is the increase in depression and anxiety. Connection with other individuals during a pandemic can provide much comfort. Knowing that we are not alone; that we are all in this together, and that other people struggle with similar, or in some instances even worse circumstances tends to calm fear.
From a somatic (soma is the body) perspective the body can only hold so much stress, fear and confusion before the body has to find an outlet to release all the pent-up emotions. A healthy way to release pent up negative emotions and energy is to either, bear witness to others by actively listening them share about their fears and concerns, or to verbally share our own fears and concerns to others. The healthiest approach bar no one is to be both a witness and to share. Sharing about our feelings allows us to move through difficult situations in a mentally healthy way, making it possible to come out on the other side crisis without unresolved shame, guilt, resentment or anger.
This is why I developed a weekly on-line Zoom videoconference Group Counseling Program. It is important to our mental health and well-being that during a global pandemic crisis we understand that we are not alone. Having a support group in the form of group counseling that allows us to share our fears, concerns and difficulties in a group setting is very healing. Additionally, people tend to be more open and honest in a group format, due to the objective nature of groups. This makes group counseling one of the most effective therapeutic modalities.
The most comforting words in the universe to hear someone else say is ‘me too.’ It helps us come to terms with the current reality, feel connected to others who are experiencing similar struggles. As such we can process and integrate our fears and concerns in a healthier way. We are all in this together and all trudging down the same road.