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The coronavirus pandemic is a challenge not only for the health care system or politicians, as the situation affects everyone directly. The situation in which the vast majority of the world’s population has found itself and has been going on for several months is completely new, unpredictable in its consequences, uncontrollable. On the one hand, great self-help initiatives arise, on the other hand, there is a risk of aggressive, selfish and destructive behavior. An example is the situation of people who are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic, i.e. nurses and doctors.
When the virus was still only a problem of other countries and did not affect our Polish cities, the health service was placed on a pedestal. Simultaneously with the spread of the disease, the fear of infection, fear for tomorrow, for their own life and for the life of their relatives increases in society to such an extent that representatives of these professions are stigmatized. The local community avoids its neighbors working in hospitals, leaves anonymous messages outside the door, and even vandalizes them in the form of property damage.
Exaggerated anxiety ceases to serve people destructively and affects their resources to cope with the situation. Another manifestation of aggressive behavior is the exclusion of infected or quarantined people. Moreover, they are criticized and are often blamed for their own stupidity as the cause of their infection. This new situation and the struggle with the invisible enemy also trigger selfishness and selfishness in people. Here we should mention the events taking place in stores, where citizens, fearing the lack of food, made mass purchases, leaving empty shelves and torn boxes, often even fighting with others for a given product. It is worth noting that there is more and more hate in social media, which is a certain way to relieve tension.
The tension that accompanies individuals can be felt at every step, while standing in line, while driving a bus or even while participating in remote classes, where there is a sharp exchange between students. Isolation in four walls has also increased the incidence of domestic violence. It turned out that family members are not able to spend their free time together in a constructive way, and it is mainly used by them to “settle the bills”. It even got to the point where people started looking for conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus. They make their own guesses, which are often irrational, similar to those of a madman. However, in order not to stick to the negative faces of the coronavirus, which drives humanity into the madness described above, it is important to highlight the pro-social behavior that is displayed by part of the society.
Activities for the benefit of others include: sewing masks, shopping for people unable to do so, initiative of psychological support from private individuals, students of psychology or other institutions. It can be noticed that, however, most often assistance is offered by institutions or larger groups. It is noteworthy that people in modern times have started to perceive more and give value to other things, things. They began to appreciate their health, the health of their loved ones, and the time they can spend together. Even work that they disliked before, and now thanks to it, the possibility of providing a certain existence has increased in value. The psychological interpretation of the epidemic situation shows that Poles cannot cope with everyday life in the times of coronavirus, which is why it is valuable to promote psychological counseling.
The situation of an epidemic threat meets all the conditions of a stressful event that causes a burden on the human psyche. In people, fear and a sense of threat to life, which they cannot cope with, grow. Despite their preparations in the fight against the virus, they are convinced that they are in a losing position, not having the slightest chance against it.
The coronavirus pandemic causes people to fear, often with no one to talk to about their fears. Most people can be overwhelmed by it and feel the enormous chaos. The symptoms of COVID – 19 anxiety can be similar to those caused by the virus itself. This is the apparent relationship between mental health and physical health. According to doctors, people often experience shortness of breath, chest pains, excessive sweating, dizziness, not knowing whether these ailments require somatic treatment or it is a psychiatric issue. Therefore, it can be stated that the psychological problems of Poles who experience a developmental crisis manifested in an emotional imbalance increase with the pandemic. The experiencing of increasing tension, fear and confusion are signs of crisis; severe subjective discomfort is visible, a state of imbalance appears.
However, it is impossible to develop a single psychological portrait of a man struggling with a pandemic, because there are different groups of people in whom COVID-19 generates a different fear, concerning other areas.
The first group is the elderly who are at the highest risk of coronavirus mortality. In addition, it should also mention people of different ages, but struggling with other serious diseases. In this group, the greatest fear is about their own lives. Women in a blessed state, which constitute the next group of considerations, are concerned not only about their own health and life, but most of all about the health and life of the unborn child. In addition, the introduced restrictions on family births cause them additional stress that in such an important and at the same time difficult moment they cannot count on the support of their relatives.
The next group are employees. We can distinguish here people who lost their jobs due to the closure of some workplaces or were forced to suspend their own business, as well as representatives of medical and trade professions who are at risk of infection with the virus while performing their duties. Employees who are deprived of work face the problem of inability to provide themselves and their families with a proper living. This situation showed that most people do not have any financial background, which causes anxiety about the lack of funds to repay the loan installments.
Students and pupils during isolation experience negative emotions conditioned by the lack of contact with peers and the lack of classroom activities. Remote learning is much more demanding which frustrates them. The deadlines for giving up homework set by the teachers are also stressful for them. It is not uncommon that they have several jobs to hand over in one day. Most of the students went to family homes, which they would rather not come back to due to their specificity, the presence of family problems, e.g. a parent’s alcoholism. To sum up, all the presented groups are united by fear for their own health and life and for family members, and for the uncertainty of the next day.
As it was written before, in this difficult time, professional psychological help seems to be essential for everyone. The people characterized above need to free themselves from the tensions resulting from the experienced feelings related to the current difficulties. They can only achieve this by expressing them. Freeing yourself from the feelings you experience at the moment enables another change of great importance, which is the identification of factors hindering coping with the problem and the search for ways to solve it. It should be remembered that psychological counseling is a form of assistance aimed at supporting the development of an individual to change the perspective and stimulating own resources conducive to the improvement of a given situation.
Psychological counseling in the form of telephone calls is offered, among others, by experienced doctors and psychologists from the 1st Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Early Intervention in Lublin. “POMOCwKRZYSYIE” help is based on the experience of Italian doctors who, due to a huge wave of critical emotional disturbances, came out with the idea of psychotherapeutic help to people in this difficult period of emotional, economic and social crisis. This support is aimed at all those who experience emotional / mental difficulties related to the current situation, in particular health care professionals and services involved in the pandemic.
In order to minimize the feeling of enslavement among people related to the imposition of restrictions by heads of state, their importance for the health and life of citizens should be constantly emphasized. Try to change their attitude to quarantine so that they do not treat it as a punishment. Show them the great value of family meetings that can positively “charge” people. An interesting form of help would be to provide others with a list of ways to constructively spend free time and to update it. It is worth recommending repairing relationships with family members if they are incorrect by initiating conversations and activities on their behalf.
However, the scale of the problem of family violence should be publicized and how to protect against it, so that potential victims have easy access to information where they can find help. The next step is to suggest to others to enjoy the smallest things because we have the most in our lives. Besides, that they should appreciate this stopping time, because we always complain about the lack of it. Motivate them to do things for which they did not have the strength or free time before. To convince about the hidden values contained in the content of books and about the advantages of a warm bath. Encourage everyone to share their fears with the environment and exchange experiences that may prove valuable to someone else. It is important to promote solidarity. Inspire pupils and students to acquire knowledge independently. The problem with a lot of homework can be solved by introducing it to the lecturers who will certainly meet the expectations of the students. It is necessary to emphasize the resources of each individual, therefore it is important to promote the search for your own strengths and use them in everyday life.
In this publication, the last suggestion to help in coping with the experience of anxiety caused by an epidemic situation is the use of relaxation techniques and meditation, thanks to which both the body and mind regenerate, and it is the key to positive thinking. Visit the Channel I of the Psychiatry Clinic on YouTube, where we conduct online meditation.
Czabała, J. Cz. (2016). Poradnictwo psychologiczne a psychoterapia. Roczniki Psychologiczne/Annals Of Psychology, XIX (3), s. 519 – 533.
Sęk, H. (2001). Wprowadzenie do psychologii klinicznej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar.