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When Caution Becomes Panic: How Anxious Should we be During the Coronavirus Crisis?

Hoarding behaviour has become common in recent times. Even if you haven’t stocked up yourself on canned food, pasta and toilet paper, you will at least have witnessed other people panicking in the supermarket. The sight of empty shelves naturally makes us wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to take home a few cans of soup. You never know. This behaviour is very easy to explain. Like animals, humans can fall into mass panic when a situation is threatening or even just confusing.

Reduce your own anxiety

Social psychology speaks of a phenomenon known as “conformity”. We all come across this in our everyday lives. Man is a group being by nature and adapts his behaviour to what he observes in others. If one person drives through a red light, another five will follow. This mechanism is stronger in times of uncertainty. It’s therefore not surprising that we currently allow ourselves to be influenced by those around us in how anxious we are and what we put in our shopping trolley.

Question your own fear

A certain amount of fear is absolutely appropriate in the current situation, given that there is real danger and a huge amount of uncertainty. Will I be personally affected? What will happen next? What am I allowed to do and what can’t I do? Of course, everyone should take good care of themselves and this involves a certain amount of caution. But where does responsible behaviour stop and irrational behaviour begin? We should ask ourselves this question regularly to assess whether our anxiety is helpful or misguided. Although fear functions as a helpful protective mechanism, it can also paralyze us if it gets out of control.

If you want to find out more about panic and COVID-19, check out “Panic and coronavirus – should we really be afraid?” .

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