The current ground hog type situation the world is currently facing has inflicted stress, anxiety and trauma to human beings worldwide. Everyone is different and as the human brain is very complex which means we all take different routes to coping with periods of uncertainty like this. People tend to either expose themselves to the reality of what’s going on in the world i.e. watch the news and never miss the 5 o’clock news update. Others choose to escape from the reality and focus on activities such as fictional video games. Personally, when the country officially got put on lockdown I never missed a 5 o’clock update and was fixated on the number of cases and deaths there were in the UK, which in retrospect made me feel on edge and anxious about my loved ones. Now I don’t necessarily escape the news, but I don’t wait for the 5 o’clock update every day and switched the BBC news notifications off my phone. Instead I partake in activities that I know make me happy such as home workouts, watching my favourite reality TV shows and playing quizzes with my friends over zoom. We should always be aware of what’s going on in the world, however if this is negatively affecting your mental state, then forms of escapism can really benefit you.
Production on TV shows and films have been put to a holt worldwide and movie theatres have been shut, even if they were open it would be a mere empty space given the nations rightfully reluctant to leave their homes to enter crowds with high density. As everyone is hunkering down to spend a long stretch at home this means one thing; streaming is booming. With some TV shows being used as a form of escapism, other people are taking the time to revisit films that are directly related to this phenomenon. Contagion, a film made in 2011 has been given an afterlife due to the content being an accurate representation of the current situation. Over the bank holiday weekend I myself took a break from my colouring book and watched contagion, I was left in disbelief that a film like this was made before this pandemic began as it was so relatable, however I do believe it’s made me tougher and more knowledgeable of what’s to come as for some people keeping fear out of sight only enables it to expand in size and intensity. Films such as contagion and outbreak allow people to vicariously live through the days and map out what will be left post-pandemic. Because our future is unknown this acts as a form of preparedness for the brain as we depict the thinkable, unthinkable and theorise where the average persons place in society will be.
Even for people that insist on never believing what papers like the Daily Mail write, fake news has been inflicting fear on people worldwide. There has been fake news contaminating our brains circulating round the media and social media that the WHO (world health organisation) have added a ‘myth busters’ section to their corona virus advise pages which includes claims that drinking potent alcoholic drinks, exposure to high temperatures and conversely cold temperatures can kill the virus. Two weeks ago, my brother forwarded a voice note that was passed on to him by his boss’s wife who works in a hospital in London. The voice note that was supposedly from a Nurse proclaimed amongst numerous other things that a third of people dying of corona virus is going to be baby’s and people below the age of 30, two days later it was announced this was a fake voice note; however it sounded so real at the time. Whether you believe fake news or not, it still inflicts anxiety and fear therefore only believe information and guidance from reliable sources such as the NHS website.
Seeking distractions is a common way of coping for some people during this pandemic, and with bars, restaurants, leisure centres and other facilities shut until Boris tells us differently – people have been finding creative ways to maintain social connections and have fun despite being stuck indoors. With the power of Zoom and house party families and friends have been playing interactive quizzes as a means of keeping contact and having fun whilst doing so. According to analysts at Futuresource video games sales have risen between 40% and 60%. The increase is due to the release of animal crossing and other new titles such as Call of Duty: Warzone, which is probably not surprising to the girlfriends who are self-isolating with their other half’s glued to COD all day.
There is a fine line between being aware of current affairs and over-exposing yourself to the point where it becomes an obsession. Maintain distractions that interest you and make you happy and ensure that you’ll keep positive. There are no right or wrong ways to exist in this period of time, however exposure to negative thoughts will only make your time in self-isolation seem longer and mentally draining.
Written by Sophia Ghahramani