As enforced orders take place to ensure our health safety from the deadly Covid – 19, it is not uncommon to respond with fear and worry as we struggle to regulate our fight/flight responses which are triggered automatically. The primitive parts of our brain (otherwise known as the reptilian brain) is the oldest part of our brain and acts as an “alarm system” which ensures our survival as a species.
What is Survival Mechanisms?
Once activated, we are no longer operating within our higher cognitive functioning processes but rather we resort to our survival mechanisms which are responsible for a host of drastic behaviors which we are currently witnessing in our society at the moment.
Fear and Hoarding Mentality
Among the concerning behaviors that we are experiencing at an alarming rate is the hoarding mentality that is leaving our stores bare and depleted. Fear is an emotional, behavioral and physiological coping reaction to perceived threats. People are experiencing anticipatory anxiety and it’s a means of keeping themselves and their families safe which is influencing hoarding behavior.
“We have two levels of thinking. We have our rational mind that tells us, No, I don’t need to buy another roll of toilet paper. But we also have a more primitive, visceral, gut reaction that says, Well, I better be safe than sorry. The herd instinct can also kick in, where people suspend judgement and start doing what everyone else is doing. So, if everyone else is panic-buying supplies, people follow the herd.“ Link
How to manage Uncertainty
We struggle with uncertainty which exasperates any other mental health issues they may be already facing that can result in hoarding behavior. Operating purely from the fear factor accompanied with flight/fight response activation can manifest in a diverse variety of unusual behaviors including hoarding. Another reason for stockpiling behavior is that individuals often interpret danger based on how other people are reacting. With panic buying, people feel a strong sense of urgency and a fear of scarcity resulting in thinking like “if they are doing it, I better do it too” . Link
Although “quarantined life” can appear grim and socially isolating – a change of perspective can help to use the time effectively and productively. For example: the time can be used to do projects around the home that have been overlooked or focusing on learning a new activity which was once of interest. Suddenly, the time we often crave always seems to become available to us but we have lost our ways of using it effectively.
Mental wellbeing is paramount during this time and affirmations are powerful and a positive way to manage time in quarantine.
Practice saying the following things every day (quoted from @Femislay):
- I am allowed to rest
- I am worthy
- My feelings are real
- I am allowed to take a break from the news cycle
- I can spend extra time on myself
Human beings are social creatures and require interaction to maintain their wellbeing. Here are some tips to help with social isolation by National Association of Social Workers:
- Keep in contact with your loved ones via social media. The more interactive the medium is the better!
- Create a daily self care routine and access anything that brings a smile
- Keep yourself busy: games, books, movies, etc
- Explore new relaxation techniques
Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can. (Arthur Ashe)
Stay calm and remain positive!