The Psychological Key to Learning to Live Without a Mask (and Without Fear)

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For two years smiling with our eyes, greeting each other with elbows and maintaining social distance, the moment the masks fall off, announced yesterday for April 20, we can feel unsafe or even in danger . There has been a fear of getting infected in the society for a long time. If we accept that a habit can be implanted after three weeks of daily application, as some authors confirm, then what we have been experiencing since March 2020 is, in many cases, a normal state without a mask. Returning to is going to be complicated. Some people may feel that they are putting their health at risk if someone talks to them in close proximity without a mask, and may feel uncomfortable if they two kiss, hug, or even a simple handshake.

In the words of psychologist and broadcaster Monia Presta, “during the pandemic, people have become accustomed to living in a permanent state of crisis.” This kind of negative stress means we always have an alarm system activated. After a period for as long as we have experienced, that alarm will continue to fire, even if the rules or the actual risk have changed.

“When a human thinks he is in danger, his paleocortex activates the fight-or-flight strategy,” says Italian psychologists. And he adds: “A period of health crisis has set off that alarm in us. Since humans are essentially adaptive, many people will have trouble getting back to the old normal. Just as it has cost us to adapt to all these restrictions, so will the readjustment take time.

Let’s look at four measures that can help with that process:

1. Make Incremental Changes

A transition phase of feeling comfortable with the two-year-old normality with the alert mechanism will force them back. We have become accustomed to masks, lack of contact and social distancing of one and a half metres. For many people it is not possible to go from 0 to 100 without any apprehension. The secret is to adjust ourselves little by little, as in a progressive exposure therapy that scares us.

2. Be comfortable

Keeping the alarm going when there is no reason for it is as stressful as forcing oneself to return to pre-Covid behavior without psychologically returning to normalcy. Each personality profile will require a different rhythm. The phobic will have more trouble removing the mask, especially in closed spaces, and may instinctively take a step back when they are about to kiss or hug her. Outward gestures and habits are, in the end, an expression of how we are on the inside. Whoever got the most stomach from worrying news will have fed the most fear and will need a period. detoxification long.

3. Monitor Post Traumatic Stress

Physicians and psychiatrists are seeing more signs of post-traumatic stress in counseling. Two years of epidemics, with or without damage to the immediate environment, take their toll in the form of insomnia, generalized anxiety or hypochondria. The fear of encountering the stimulus can lead to avoidance behaviors and even self-imprisonment. The problem lies, first of all, in phobic personalities and in the elderly population who, being a risk group, will have more difficulties turning the page.

4. Reclaim the Pleasures of Life

To travel from fear to love, it is necessary to stop thinking about the dangers and start thinking about the benefits. Let’s recognize the beauty of a smile that we can finally see on the lips. Or the feeling of comfort that overwhelms us when we are well embraced. Depending on the hobbies and more or less social character of each person, there will be specific pleasures that we will be happy to return to our list: vibrate with the audience of a concert, sing a goal in a full stadium, return to lunch or Friends’ dinners that are a celebration of life.

Beyond the dangers of pestilence and war conflicts, past, present and future, we cannot remain in the grip of fear, for it will prevent us from enjoying the gift of existence. As the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson said, “There is no duty we so neglect as to be happy.”

a knack with history

– Decades before the outbreak of COVID-19, travelers to Japan were surprised that part of the passengers on the subway or trains wore masks. Many did it to avoid infecting others, for example if they had a cold, but the practice also has a Japanese fixation on cleanliness, risk avoidance, and the desire to filter environmental pollution.

This habit hardened during the pandemic may explain the country’s low rate of infection, which is among the lowest among the world’s seven major economies.

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