There’s no other way to put it: The world is a scary place right now. Most of us are holing up in our homes, practicing responsible “social-distancing,” staying attached to the latest news as it trickles out both on the federal and the local level, trying to get our work done, consuming more than a daily recommended supply of Netflix, and connecting with loved ones and friends through digital means.
It’s unsettling to have your daily patterns and ease of access to things like restaurants, bars, and gyms (if you live in major metros like New York and Los Angeles) disrupted and have the president give daily announcements that swing wildly from unconcerned to dire.
If you live in a major metropolitan area, things can be particularly tense, especially if you are running low on some of the most in-demand products like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or cleaning supplies. In fact, once you find that item available in stores, you might be tempted to buy every last bit.
Dr. Michael Wetter is a PsyD and Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist, and he says that while it’s appropriate to be concerned, panicking and hoarding random household essentials is not the way to handle it and it’s doing more harm than good.
“Panic is a product of uncertainty. Currently, especially internationally and globally, there is no definitive answer to explain how long we’ll need to wait to go back to normal life. Without an endpoint, without conclusion, people are left in a state of angst, and when you stay there collectively, it becomes widespread panic. Panic is more contagious than COVID-19.”
In fact, Dr. Wetter says that “panic is the pandemic.” Panic can infect us all through a wide variety of means, including social media, the news, or just driving by the grocery store and seeing lines of people waiting to enter.” Yet, as Wetter points out, feeling panicked is a natural response to what is happening in the world, and you shouldn’t dismiss it. Here’s what you can do to manage your panic in these tough times.