The Fear Factor: Fear

08 Jul 2020

The Fear Factor

Some of us will find going back out into the world after Covid easier than others. However we deal with it we shouldn’t feel ashamed to be fearful says an expert.

How will we feel as time goes on? Will Covid-19 be assigned to the history books, something to tell the grandkids of that strange, fearful period in 2020 when we stayed at home fearing for our lives?

Will we ever feel brave enough to walk out into the world, mask-free, without fear of human contact or death?

Well, some of us will find that easier than others. The way we handle fear comes down to lots of things such as personality and life experience.

But however we deal with it, we shouldn’t feel ashamed to be fearful, according to Mersey Care clinical psychologist, Sarah Jones.

Sarah says fear of death is part of the human condition. From an evolutionary perspective we are primed to strive to live for as long as possible.

“We have to reconcile that with the fact that death is inevitable and that can be anxiety provoking. People differ in how
they process this,” she says.

The impact of Covid and its restrictions are undoubtedly impacting people’s emotional wellbeing. Some people have lost their financial security, usual coping strategies, routines and connections. But others are seeing more positive aspects in terms of quality of life, more time spent with children, getting into an exercise regime and putting more time into self care.

Coronavirus window

Sarah says: “The overall take home is that it’s understandable for people to experience a range of emotions such as feeling fearful, anxious, depressed, angry or lacking in motivation. They may be going through lots of different feelings and part of that may be linked to our longevity being under threat.”

We all have different ways of coping with threat depending on things like our background history, personality and
experience of relationships. We tend to ward off and bat away threatening thoughts and may feel overwhelmed or shell shocked when confronted with unwanted information.

It can take time to accept and adapt. Sarah suggests for those struggling to process emotions to get reliable facts and information, but also to limit news consumption, which can lead to information overload and distress.

“When faced with existential threats many people take comfort from reflecting on the meaning of life and its purpose. People recognising their core values and maintaining ways of living that align with these is very important.

"Thinking about what gives you self esteem helps you feel connected with other people. A lot of people turn to religion to help them at these times.”

In terms of self care, having a routine, finding meaningful things to do, eating healthily, exercising and using mindfulness or meditation to encourage being present in the moment, can all have powerful effects.

“It’s about kindness and compassion to yourself and others”, says Sarah. “If someone is really struggling with mental
health issues then they should talk about it, seek help from the wealth of services available.

"But let’s not forget that this is part of the human condition and it’s understandable that people might feel this way in the context of Covid.”

Read Diane Cooke's account of how being scared of death stopped her living her best life.

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