Get ready for Lockdown 4.0 – here’s how to bypass it

My heart sank, literally, when I heard the news New variant of Covid-19 detected in South AfricaAmid warnings that it may be the “most important” strain of the virus to date.

There are concerns that the B.1.1.529 variant may have the ability to evade pre-existing immunity vaccination Or a previous infection – with the health minister, Sajid Javid, warning it could be “more transmissible” than the Delta strain. As a result, Britain has added six new countries to its travel red list: South AfricaNamibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling anxious and emotionally drained by the latest news — because, frankly, haven’t we all felt enough? enough of Corona virus disease, enough closures (think we may be Facing Lockdown 4.0 in the coming months, depending on how quickly this latest strain is contained, is enough to make any of us cry real tears). We are tired of worrying about getting infected and passing on that infection; Enough, too, of our collective grief for the friends and family members we have lost to the virus; Enough of fear weighing as heavy as a slab of cement in our stomachs every time we travel on a bus or train, or go somewhere crowded.

Last night, I went to an event that was full of people – all double dropouts, all negative side flow, many masked – but the first thing I talked about was a stranger? How worried we were about being in that room. That’s because, let’s face it – the last eighteen months of living in the shadow of the pandemic have profoundly changed us. We may not even realize it yet – we’re too busy to “go on” with life: work, family, relationships, the daily details of caring, cleaning, shopping, and thinking ahead of the holiday season.

We haven’t had a chance to stop breathing and recalibrate, to look back and start to process what months of protection or self-isolation have done for us, licking our wounds and scars. We carry them, each of us. But in classic British “stiff upper lip” style, we squeeze it all in and keep going.

Today is Black Friday, after all – And most of us will Not You think existentially about how we feel about the virus – we simply don’t have the time. Instead, we’ll likely be looking frantically at deals for toys, electronics, clothing, gifts, and toys to make sure that Christmas 2021 (as opposed to a sad Christmas of 2020) goes according to plan. But at the end of it all, do you support everything we do? Fear – for those we love and for ourselves.

The long-term effects of living with fear are vague and disturbing. The potential effects of chronic fear on physical health, According to an expertThese include headaches that turn into migraines, muscle pain that turns into fibromyalgia, body aches that turn into chronic pain, and difficulty breathing that turns into asthma.

There are similarly devastating potential effects on our emotional health and well-being as well: dissociation, inability to feel love, helplessness, anxiety or phobias, mood swings, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts.

Fear can also affect our ability to learn new things, with Marie de Muller, MD, director of Psychiatric Services, explained that the brain’s ability to restore prior learning depends on “specific chemical states.” “Chemical changes can distort the perception of sensory information and thus distort storage,” she said.

When the brain is hyper-excited – as many of us arguably can feel, given the persistent state of alertness around the virus – “this distorts storage of sensory input and information retrieval will be affected”.

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So, what to do with all this fear? How do we even begin to deal with it and carry it? Some people swear by simple things: like being alert, others exercising and being out in nature; Many like to keep themselves as informed as possible – so they feel they have some kind of control. Personally speaking, I fall into the latter camp – I don’t like what I don’t like I know. It helps me keep my cool if I feel like I’ve explored all the angles, read the experts, and am aware of the breaking news.

Perhaps the most basic way to start is to validate our feelings, as we would with a friend or colleague (this is a technique that was last explored. Dear Fix Tips column). It’s okay to be afraid – it’s a completely natural response to discovering a new alternative. He’s bigger than us, we can’t control him. It can be hard to deal with, but acceptance can go a long way.

I’m also a big believer in talk – just airing anxiety or worry works wonders, for me. The old adage “a common problem is a half problem” exists for a reason. And no, we may not be able to “solve” it or “fix” it, but we can listen, empathize, and understand. And if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past 18 months, it’s how much we need each other.

So let’s start doing it: let’s #be kind. We cannot control the virus, but we can control how we support each other. And while we don’t know the outcome or the multiplier effect of this last alternative, as we move forward through the upcoming winter, we will need this support more than ever.

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