The second wave of the Corona pandemic: effects on our psyche

03. November 2020

Corona infection figures in Germany are rising rapidly. After a brief respite in the summer, safety and hygiene precautions are now being tightened again as part of the November lockdown. It is a setback for all of us, even though it was to be expected. Instead of hard facts, figures and regulations, this article will highlight the emotional and psychological components of the pandemic.

Fears of Corona Infection

Probably the most significant psychological component of the Corona pandemic is the real and, unfortunately, partly well-founded fear of a severe infection. High-risk patients with pre-existing conditions, in particular, have now been exposed to this fear for some time. In addition, many people naturally worry about their relatives. No one wants to lose their parents, grandparents or other people in their close environment due to a severe corona infection.

What does it do to us humans when we worry over a long period of time? On a physical level, prolonged anxiety leads to increased stress levels. The body then releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In the long run, this is harmful to our system. We are more susceptible to illness and the constant state of alarm wears down our mental and physical performance (Schandry, 2011). In addition, there is a danger that the worry spirals take on a life of their own, so to speak. We then lose control of our anxiety thoughts and can develop anxiety disorder.

Loneliness and isolation from the Corona pandemic

Social contacts reduce during the period of intensified measures. Events and celebrations are canceled, weekly get-togethers are cancelled, and attendance diminishes. Of course, this serves the overall purpose of keeping infection numbers at a manageable level. Nevertheless, we lack social contacts. Loneliness and isolation can set in. This depresses the mood and can, on one hand, aggravate already existing mental illnesses or promote their new emergence on the other. The Association of German Psychologists (BDP) has already identified an increase in mental illness. The telephone hotline set up at the height of the pandemic was used a great deal, which speaks to a sense of worry and anxiety among the population.

Limited freedom

We have to accept some limitations in the Corona pandemic. This is a very new and unpleasant experience for many. We are limited in our freedom and even if the vast majority of people consider this necessary and sensible, it can be burdensome. Many feel gratitude, for the standard of living we know. But they are also melancholy, subdued in mood, and understandably worried about their future. Most notable here are people whose economic livelihoods are threatened by the renewed harsh rules of the November lockdown.

Experts believe that the restrictions imposed by the pandemic are traumatizing. Within a very short time, all of our lives have been severely affected. We should not underestimate this burden and, even more than usual, take time for ourselves and actively work on coping with the situation.

Far from it and in a celebratory mood

Don’t we already think about how nice it would be to take a trip again? To lie on the beach completely carefree and just relax? Or to arrange a big celebration, with all dear people and carefree and detached to dance?
We are almost certainly not alone in that. Unfortunately, the reality is different and we have to endure this “dry spell” until further notice. However, the hope for an effective drug, a decrease in the number of infections or even a vaccine remains. Until then, it is a matter of making it a good time at home with the remaining options. Tips for getting through the crisis well can be found at the end of the article.

Joys and sorrows of social distancing

Interestingly, many people report that the forced deceleration has also done them good. For example, families have been able to enjoy much more time together than is usually the case in stressful everyday life. Even if we miss a lot of things, the somewhat emptier schedule also has its good sides. More time and space has been created for self-reflection, self-care and maintaining really close social contacts.

Working life has also changed for the better for many. The Corona pandemic has driven digitization and has been a departure for many employers into more flexible working models, for example, through home working or switching to digital formats. Nonetheless, not everyone is equally happy in the home working. Some people find that the ceiling falls on their heads at home and they miss their collegial environment.

Conflicts in the environment

Opinions are divided to a certain extent about the proportionality of the measures. The discussions in the political arena reflect this. In addition, the pandemic provides a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and anti-democratic currents. It is increasingly common to encounter people with whom we do not share our opinion regarding the Corona pandemic and protective measures. The question is how to deal with these different opinions. Dialogue with each other is certainly always useful. Just listening to each other and trying to understand the other’s point of view can be a helpful step. Even if opinions differ greatly, common manners and mutual respect should be maintained.

In the end, it can sometimes just be a case of “Let’s agree to disagree,” which means “Let’s agree to disagree”. The final clarity of what was helpful in the pandemic and what was not will probably only come in a few years’ time, when the pandemic has been overcome or else is under control.

What can we do about the Corona effects on our psyche?

The second wave of the Corona pandemic is making times seem not very nice right now. Everyone is bearing the brunt of the Corona pandemic and everyone would like to see an immediate end to the pandemic. But, it’s no use, we have to do our best to get through this time as physically and mentally unscathed as possible. We have put together a few tips, thought-provoking ideas and suggestions that can help you now. In addition, we encourage you to read our article titled Coping with Difficult Thoughts. There, too, you will find help in dealing with worries and fears.

  • Build beneficial routines: Be it the evening bubble bath, long walks or nice phone calls – we should all do the things that make us feel good during this time and that do not contradict the measures in place.
  • Healthy diet and sufficient exercise: Freely following the motto “In a healthy body, lives a healthy mind”, now is the time to take good care of our own health. A healthy lifestyle also strengthens the immune system and we are better equipped against a potential corona infection.
  • Meet the situation with as much acceptance as possible: Easier said than done, but perhaps it helps to think that acceptance does not mean necessarily having to approve of something. Rather, acceptance means no longer getting caught up in countless inner struggles with the situation.
  • Inform yourself sufficiently, comply with applicable rules and apply common sense: Everyone should inform themselves sufficiently, however, it is advisable not to get lost again and again in the whirlpool of messages and only deal with the issue of Corona virus. If we adhere to the applicable rules, so we are protected as well as possible and will make it well through this time with the necessary common sense.
  • Don’t lose hope: So far, every pandemic has eventually passed. Hopefully, we will come out of this stronger as a community, and at some point, even the Corona pandemic will be just a memory.
  • Laugh: Yes, the Corona virus is a buzzkill. But we can try not to let it get the upper hand. Funny series, movies or audio books abound. In addition to all the seriousness of the situation, fun should not be neglected! In addition, social gatherings can also be done well digitally: Zoom, Skype or Teams deliver many possibilities here.
    Let things come to you calmly: Most people are very good at imagining the worst disaster scenarios. However, such thoughts always take us away from the here and now. This is very exhausting for the spirit and the mind and robs resources that we urgently need for the present. The approach of mindfulness provides helpful impulses for this.
    Seek help if mental health deteriorates: The psychological stresses associated with the Corona pandemic should not be underestimated. If you notice a severely depressed mood or extreme anxiety in yourself or your loved ones over a long period of time, do not be afraid to seek professional advice. A good first point of contact is, for example, the family doctor’s office.

We wish you that they come through these difficult times healthy and in reasonably good spirits. Do not let yourself get down!

Further topics:

References

(1) https://www.bdp-verband.de/

(2) Schandry, R. (2011). Biological psychology. Beltz

(3) https://www.bdp-verband.de/presse/pm/2020/100-tage-psychologische-unterstuetzung.html

(4) https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/corona-i-das-trauma-1.5048465

(5) https://www.wz.de/panorama/corona-in-bergamo-dieses-trauma-wird-mich-ein-leben-lang-begleiten_aid-52492661

(6) https://www.welt.de/gesundheit/psychologie/plus207789085/Psyche-und-Gesellschaft-Fuehrt-Corona-zu-einem-kollektiven-Trauma.html
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Friederike Reuver
Autor:in Friederike Reuver
"Die LIMES Schlosskliniken haben sich auf die Behandlung von psychischen und psychosomatischen Erkrankungen spezialisiert. Mit Hilfe des Blogs möchten wir als Klinikgruppe die verschiedenen psychischen Erkrankungen näher beleuchten und verschiedene Therapien sowie aktuelle Themen vorstellen."

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