COMMON EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO COVID-19

The following are some of common reactions to COVID – 19, they are commonly experienced in crisis situations where uncertainty is observed.

Fear – often experienced due to perceived threat to life and safety. What you need to do:

  • Acknowledge fear as a normal reaction to threats to safety in yourself, staff and coworkers.
  • Fear is linked to survival
  • Fear can lead to panic reactions (when we perceive the pandemic as contagious, when we perceive that we have not opportunity to channel our uncertainty and when we perceive our opportunities for adaptive coping as lacking or limited)
  • Seek out timely and accurate information from the correct source.

 

Anger: This is a common response to feelings of helplessness and unable to control a situation. What you need to do:

 

  • Diffuse anger through listening; “understand first then seek to be understood”
  • Anger is energy/ power – redirect it or any strong anger emotions to productive activities that will in return be rewarding within a group or individual activities
  • For example, with COVID -19 “what can we do together to help one another?

 

Anxiety/worry: Can be mistaken for fear.  

Often experienced because of specific concerns e.g. financial security, health and safety. Anxiety can also be related to non – specific concerns like lack of control, which is the most difficult type of anxiety to deal with. What to do:

 

  • Actively participate in discussions seeking solutions
  • Do something constructive to alleviate anxiety
  • Encourage health habits and coping resources
  • Ensure a regular routine, this can ease excessive worrying

 

Loss/separation: Multiples losses are associated with pandemics:

  • Economic/financial
  • General loss of feeling in control
  • Separation from friends /family
  • During later/more severe stages: death of loved ones

 What can you do?

  • Empathize and validate the experience
  • Seek support from your spiritual and religious beliefs and rituals
  • Recognize the unique nature of loss in a pandemic crisis (e.g. contagion, sustained periods of uncertainty, alterations in burial rituals etc.)

 

 

Generally social support reduces feelings of uncertainty, enhances positive coping! How is your social support network?

 

If you feel emotionally overwhelmed, you may call the staff counsellor.

 

Telephone: +254 728 961 939 or Ext: 24703

E-mail: peninah.irungu@un.org

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