How to communicate with those who suffer from excessive fear of coronavirus? Fear is a physiological and functional reaction, but it can lead to excessive fear…
Fear is a physiological and functional reaction, but it can sometimes lead to excessive fear and become dysfunctional.
I often receive questions about how to communicate with family, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances who have particular difficulty. For this reason, I would like to dedicate this article to those who do not know how to help someone manage their excessive fear of coronavirus.
It should be noted that feeling fear of coronavirus is absolutely normal and functional but when it becomes excessive and uncontrolled, it can lead to panic and become dysfunctional.
I list the functional reactions that we are all called upon to follow during this particularly delicate period:
- use of the mask and hand disinfection;
- avoid crowded places;
- consult a doctor in case of symptoms by following safety procedures;
- seek information only from reliable sources when in doubt.
How can I help a friend who is too afraid of the coronavirus?
Here are 3 tips for communicating effectively with those who have an excessive fear of coronavirus, small actions that can make a difference.
- It is essential to respect the other person’s point of view, not to deny or belittle the emotions and feelings they are experiencing. Empathy means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and listening to their feelings as if you were experiencing them first hand. To be afraid is to feel constantly in danger, without a grip or security, constantly threatened by the feeling that something very unpleasant can happen.
- Using the language of “the greatest fear versus the smallest fear” instead of rational reasoning that has no effect on the listener. For example, one reaction to the fear of coronavirus is seeking protection from relatives, seeking continuous medical examinations even in the absence of symptoms, or compulsively searching for information on the Internet. Communication in these cases could be: “the more you seek protection from others, the more you communicate to yourself that you are unable”; “the more you go to the doctor for medical check-ups, the more likely you are to be infected in the waiting room”; “the more you seek information on the Internet, the more your anxiety will increase and your immune system’s defenses will decrease”.
- Contact a professional psychologist together if you can’t help each other alone because you perceive a serious situation or you show a general avoidance of all situations, even if they are not potentially dangerous.
Remember: “Fear looked at in the face becomes courage, fear avoided turns into panic fear” (Sumerians).
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