Fear, another sequel to COVID-19

Tunnel vision" makes us see only what is in front of us and become blind to the rest. Fake news increases stress.

Fear, another sequel to COVID-19
Another consequence of COVID-19 is fear. Photo by Jakayla Toney / Unsplash

Faced with the rapid advance of Omicron, people began to feel nervous, a normal and understandable reaction because "in the face of any strange situation or threat to our health, it is inevitable to experience it," said Melisa Chávez Guerrero, professor at the Faculty of Psychology (FP) of the UNAM. The COVID-19 impacts on physical and emotional well-being, as demonstrated by the notable increase in anxiety and depression-related ailments recorded from 2020 to date, which is largely due to inadequate management of our fears.

Given the information regarding the number of infections and deaths, the university specialist recommended moderation in the face of the avalanche of data and to remain calm everywhere, which could help to reduce the impact of Omicron on mental health. "The risk is that our attention is focused only on the pandemic and the threat it represents. If we place ourselves in that scenario, we are likely to succumb to fear and avoid our surroundings. This phenomenon is known as 'tunnel vision, and implies a tendency to see only what is in front of us and become blind to the rest".

The academic suggests "giving ourselves a break" and doing other activities such as watching something relaxing on television, putting together puzzles, spending time with the family, and resuming habits that the pandemic made us forget, for example, laughing. "This does not imply that we underestimate the severity of COVID-19 or that we consider that, because we were told that Omicron is milder, we should stop worrying. It is necessary to continue on this path of taking care of ourselves and it includes taking care of the physical as well as the mental".

Meanwhile, for the professor of the School of Medicine, Rocio Tirado Mendoza, the sudden presence of a new variant that in weeks displaced Delta from the epidemiological field, changed the rules of the game. "The appearance of Omicron was untimely and that is why it is so disconcerting, in the sense that it began to be distributed very quickly and in much shorter times", which has caused that in a few days we know known people infected or under suspicion of having COVID-19, which generates a sensation of a tightening circle, she warned.

The current situation generates too much stress in the population and it increases with the daily appearance of fake news about the Coronavirus; receiving confusing information increases our fears. Rocío Tirado suggested not to take as true everything that reaches us without first contrasting it with what experts say, not even those publications shared via networks or WhatsApp by our most trusted family or friends. "Science tells us that RNA viruses tend to mutate and more variants will surely appear, it is to be expected, but to assure that a new virus is circulating with the worst of Delta and the high transmissibility of Omicron, not only generates fear but also misinforms".