اعلان الهيدر

When the pandemic hit in March, everything closed, we felt stuck. Suddenly, we were no longer free to do what we wanted. But, everyone - practically the whole planet - had to do the same thing at exactly the same time, namely "to go home". During the first weeks of spring, when it was gray and everything was closed, we had little contact with others.

 In us, fearquickly took up space. “Fear is an important emotion for our survival. And we learn it very quickly. If you try to cross a street without looking and you miss getting hit ... You don't have to experiment 22 times to understand that you have to look from both sides before. We will make the association quickly. It's the same with coronavirus. When it all happened in Asia, we thought it was far away. Then the situation in Italy and Spain, with the number of deaths rising, came. At the same time, we learned that some things that were neutral before - hearing someone cough, visiting friends, going out, etc. - now represented a potential danger of catching the virus ", explains Marie-France Marin, professor of psychology at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Our brain made the association: the others = potential danger. As the virus is potentially everywhere and completely invisible, everyone can be perceived as a threat.

However, this trauma - because, yes, what we have collectively experienced is one - was experienced differently by everyone. In fact, experts report that our fear will be influenced by various factors: the messages retained through all the information consumed (we no longer notice disaster scenarios or good news), the inhabited region, knowing a victim, work , etc. Marie-France Marin also provides clarification. “No one was at the same starting point when everything stopped in March. Some were already “loaded”, exhausted. There are also people who also have a strong trait of anxiety. Biologically, women also tend to be more affected, ”she says.

Deconfining at different speeds

Somewhere between our fears, our apprehensions and our uncertainties, the desire to find a "more normal" life, to see our loved ones and to feel free began to grow in us. Again, at different degrees of intensity for each. Because the fear was still there.

When the confinement fell, many began to dream of the day when it would be lifted. At the head, we had an idyllic scenario worthy of a film where everything becomes exactly as before, overnight. The reality was much more complex. Deconfinement takes place in stages. It requires patience. The permissions are widening, but many new rules related to sanitary measures are put in place without counting the maintenance of rear gestures. This gradual deconfinement is done too slowly for some who feel aggrieved to see that their sector of activity or their interests are not yet "liberated". .

If it was believed that the confinement was difficult to live and to support, some did not expect to be so disturbed at the time of deconfinement which in reality is not that of our dreams. We closed Quebec as we shut off the tap at once in March, but deconfinement means reopening it drop by drop.

The government choices linked to the deconfinement were not unanimous: plans seemed a little vague, sectors were privileged before others, decisions were called into question, etc. And despite warnings from political authorities and public health, people have also started their own deconfinement. Some have therefore taken certain freedoms faster than others. Some have relaxed the rules related to social distancing or gatherings. Some quickly adopted the mask, others rejected it. Others continued to follow government rules.

Unlearn fear

“Unlearning fear is not easy. When we are stressed, our brain is in “threat search” mode. His attention is biased. He focuses on the negative and notices only the potential dangers. In fact, he does not see all the angles ”, underlines Marie-France Marin. The explanation is biological. "When the stress hormones activate, they go up to the frontal lobe, which is the seat of judgment and discernment, and disturb its functioning. So if we see a car in front of our neighbor's house, we immediately think of "He's having a party! He's not following the rules!" At the outset, we do not think about the fact that someone may come to deliver his groceries to him. When our brain is stressed, in front of something ambiguous, it does not take a chance, it sends an alert of potential danger ”, explains the specialist.

“ Acute stress mobilizes and drives us to action. Chronic stress, on the other hand, causes fatigue and even changes the way we perceive the world. Completely opposite attitudes can arise: either be hypervigilant and refuse to be confused, or have an attitude of total “I don't care” where nothing is more serious. Extremes are never good, ”says Marie-France Marin. Staying locked up and saying that we are waiting for the vaccine to go out and resume normal life is to feel a pathological fear. Risk 0 does not exist. You have to get this out of your head. Even before the pandemic, this did not exist. On the other side of the spectrum, saying "I'm not afraid at all" is no better. "This is not normal. In fact, being on the lookout is okay, ”she says.

Getting rid of our fears in stages

To unlearn the fear that you have acquired quickly, you will have to go in stages. “It's quite a challenge, because we've been conditioned to be afraid of things that we weren't afraid of before and that we cared very little about. We will need several exposures to situations which at the base - before March - were not dangerous, but which became so afterwards, ”specifies Marie-France Marin. So you also have to go gradually: you won't go from home, safely, to a ride in crowded public transport. You have to take small steps, small experiences. “It's okay to be uncomfortable and not feel good. During the first BBQ, we have no fun. We analyze everything. But that's how you learn to tolerate discomfort. Quietly, our brains will understand that it's ok, that it's not dangerous, ”she adds.

Some scenarios and how to react to them

- We want to invite friends home, but we wonder how to do it.

Hosting people with us requires more planning than before. For the first time, with potentially each person, you will feel that it is less spontaneous. You have to think about what you are ready to accept and do before you even issue the invitation. With our friends, we open the discussion to also know their positions (example: "You, how do you see that?" Or "Are you comfortable with ...?"). We also announce our colors. Then we make the final decision. Maybe we won't invite the same people as before.

- We are invited to someone's house: what to do if we are afraid?

We ask questions, the same as when we invite people home. Be frank. "How are things at your place? What are the rules that you apply? ” We do not have to respond immediately to an invitation and rather take the time to think about it. If you are uncomfortable, you can simply name it. We try to find compromises to tolerate discomfort at our own pace. Are you invited for an afternoon and supper? We suggest going there only for an aperitif. However, you have to be careful. If we stay in "If I don't go, I'm fine", we will never go out again. Avoidance fuels fear. You have to expose yourself gradually.

- In a gathering, we realize that the other guests do not respect the rules (or make them more flexible than us!).

You have to learn to tolerate discomfort while respecting yourself. If it is not exactly as we thought, we are trying to find a compromise that allows us not to be completely paralyzed by fear. For example, you could say that we prefer to stay with people outside and not to enter the house.

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