Updated: Mar 9, 2021
As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.
Then why is it that many of us fail to implement the World Health Organisation advices?
The short answer: Because we are programmed to resist change.
Meaning the most important question is besides how to stay safe is how to stay sane and change?
In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise (source WHO).
When I read the advices of the WHO, Unicef, Mental health UK I think they all makes sense, but for most people they will be almost impossible as it means a behavioural and belief change.
The 3 main advices struck me as almost undoable for a person unless they are already daily routines.
Eat a balanced diet
Try to anticipate distress
Everyone who has done his/her best to change a behaviour knows how hard that is just by understanding the need of it.
Everyone who ever wanted to stop an addiction knows it is not easy to do even though it makes totally sense and you know why you should do it it. Just like very person who has a weight issue knows that they should eat healthier or less and that does not means it happens.
Knowing why we should do something does not change us, if that was enough unhealthy habits would not exist.
When I was reading this it made me even worry even more, how can someone implement this without professional assistance?
"It is OK to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.
It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking?
When we read about what sales is going up, it is the sales of alcohol, cigarettes and food as this makes totally sense as we like to comfort ourselves in these times of stress. This is a deep ingrained habit that is not so easily changed.
Just imagine we learn to talk when we are 3 and really grasp the concept of language from age 7 onwards, and all the things we learn before and during that period of time is installing as beliefs and habits in our mind and body as somatic experiences.
So advices made in words do not work as they do not speak the language of how they are stored in our mind/body. It is like talking chinese to a Englishman and assume they understand you.
So what can we do to implement these advices?
We have to learn the language of the mind and body that are in control of our beliefs and memories.
So that we can learn how to change behaviour and deep ingrained beliefs in a professional way; how to do that for yourself, your beloved ones and others.