Coronavirus: changes taking place and strategies for understanding and managing stress

On the evening of March 9, the news of the extension of the protected area to the whole national territory as a containment measure for the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19. 

For a people accustomed to physical contact, to a sociality that makes us famous in the world, having to force themselves to the distance, change the way to greet, work and live everyday life is not to be underestimated. Nonetheless, it is now a ministerial ordinance "having to change your lifestyle". 

La resistance to change it is a typical attitude that contrasts with human evolution: if on the one hand the change is necessary and the adaptation of the species is the factor that most determines the survival skills, the tendency to want to reproduce the same patterns is a mirror of cognitive processes that allow the brain to save enormous amounts of energy and move forward with relative ease. 

Since it is such a complex phenomenon, it is easy to fall into conspiracy theories or believe in "fake news", thanks to the tendency of the Italian media to ride the wave of catchphrases; it becomes difficult to extricate oneself from collective panic and stay calm, especially now that somehow, we are all experiencing the consequences of restrictive measures.

As mentioned by Ulrich Beck in his text "The risk society" (1986), the process of modernization of society brings with it a generalized increase in risk: casualties, that is, generated by modernity itself lead to problems that: 

  • They transcend borders
  • They are hardly recognizable 
  • They are systemic

This system, while on the one hand has highly positive repercussions such as the democratization of science and access to technology, on the other it produces phenomena such as that of the Coronavirus, the spread of which can be defined as one of the (unwanted) consequences of globalization and capitalism . Just as goods, goods and people can move anywhere in the world in a matter of hours, a highly contagious virus is able to spread in times that were, until a few decades ago, unthinkable.

These risks produce a different sense of time and space, the use of "public affairs" and access to services, causing a profound questioning about the type of society in which we live. 

Who for a canceled flight, who for the children at home, whoever is in Italy is now reviewing his plans. We are witnessing radical changes in what was the daily life and security of "home", the foundations of the great institutions and public systems that run the country, so accustomed to moving slowly and with very long times, today undergo sudden contractions, responding to emergencies as they can. 

Much of what will happen, on the other hand, will also depend on the ordinary citizen and his ability to follow rules and prohibitions. It is a struggle, more than against the virus, against the great difficulty of the human being respond to change, to accept that certain habits must be suspended for the good of all. 

In this difficult climate, it is therefore useful to share some recommendations which, added to the precautionary measures provided by the experts, focus on mental well-being:

  • Keep ahealthy nutrition and try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, sleep and exercise;
  • Take care of relationships even at a distance, trying to use technology in a positive way, to feel close to loved ones even in situations of isolation;
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol or other substances for managing emotions;
  • Limit excessive "consumption" of news about the virus;
  • Stay informed e follow the official sources to understand their own risk situation (Ministry of Health, government sites, ASL etc.);
  • Maintain or create routines that contribute to emotional stability;
  • In case of feeling of overpowering and difficulty managing emotions, do not hesitate to contact a doctor or psychologist
  • To show closeness to the most fragile categories, which can experience the current situation with particular anguish.

Until today We have been lucky never having to take such precautions in our lives. Not having had to fear for health by being in a public place, not having had the thought of escaping for a silent and invisible risk so difficult to fight. We are in a panic because the situation is serious, but also because the threshold of safety of "normal" life is among the highest in the world. In Mexico a woman risks feminicide much more than Coronavirus, as in Syria or on the borders of our Fortress Europe the risks are very different. 

The shock to collective numbness is great and perhaps we can hope that when everything is over, epic tales of love stories remain, friendships found after years of silence, solidarity between strangers and a great lesson of humanity for those who live in safe lands - that I am no longer sure, nothing is - to know how to look beyond one's situation e feeling part of the community, a community widens the gaze and includes the whole world.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Valeria Giannuzzi 


*Psy + Onlus is an organization that deals with making psychology accessible to all. For information on treatments and access to support programs, contact the toll-free number 800.91.04.89 or visit the section of the Psychological Clinical Counseling Center of our site.




* Notes on the author: Valeria Giannuzzi is Clinical Psychologist and PhD in Social Sciences with Specialization in Migratory Studies. He is one of the founding members of Psy + Onlus, with which he currently collaborates remotely. He lives in London and deals with the integration of international migrants. His latest research with the Bangladesh community focuses on the migration project and integration strategies in the contexts of Rome and London.

stress, anxiety, Coronavirus, COVID-19, change, pandemic

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