The one-year-old state of emergency burdens us in many ways, but we can count on pulling through
-This is no longer an acute crisis, but a prolonged, burdensome new situation, says Tuija Turunen, the leading psychologist of Terveystalo right at the outset.
-Crisis is a sudden situation, but now we are living in a phase where, for a year already, we have had to adapt our lives into new kinds of everyday routines for an indefinite period of time. This is psychologically straining and drains energy from us all the time, but still we human beings have the strength to endure it.
The abnormal everyday life brought on by the coronavirus has continued for almost a year now. According to Turunen, the completion of one year is an important milestone.
-The human mind easily divides things into periods, a year being one such measure. It evokes a wide range of emotions: fatigue, disappointment, even criticism. Has everything been done right and on right time? These are all expected phenomena that are completely natural. There is no need to think that it would be somehow wrong to have such feelings.
What is important is to find the exact right way for oneself to put these feelings into words and to unload them. Eventually, overcoming difficulties increases the resilience of both the individual and society. The word ‘resilience’, which is also used fashionably today, does not mean an overly positive perspective, but specifically the realistic ability to be flexible and recover, to learn from difficult stages. So it is a kind of perseverance of mind.
What kind of perseverance does the year-long situation require of us then? If the time to deal with the sudden crisis came last spring, then what is the time for now?
Time for thanksgiving
A year is a long time to endure a difficult situation. For this reason, the time for saying thank you is already now. It is good to establish that we have endured this difficult situation for a long time already. Everyone can thank and congratulate themselves, their family, friends, co-workers, or other loved ones. We have made it this far already. We will make it even further!
Time for milestones and recovery
In the midst of thanking and congratulations, one might be in a suitable frame of mind to plan coping in the future. The world has already talked about the term Covid-fatigue, being tired of the coronavirus - one just would not be able to cope anymore, this cannot be true any longer.
- In an indefinitely long situation, waiting for the end may not be the best way to cope, but it’s worth creating milestones for yourself and your communities, something to look forward to. In this situation, it cannot be a holiday abroad nor many of the other familiar things, but rewarding is important - one way or another, Turunen describes.
Pleasant milestones help us to recover, and in difficult situations recovery must be ensured - only then can we help others to cope. This guideline should also be taken into account in families with children, where the load can be high even without an exceptional situation.
-This is also wise parenting. You have to take care of yourself so that you can help the children cope with the situation, Turunen says.
Time for stories
Stories are important to people. They help us structure things, define ourselves and the world around us. Through them, we can unload and structure our feelings as well.
-It has been studied that history and stories serve as strong positive factors in strengthening the resilience of entire lineages and families as well.
Stories can be told in various ways. Diaries and other texts are just one way to do this. Everyone can tell stories in their own way: through painting, poetry, dancing. Everyone can find their own way to channel their observations of the world.
Time for understanding the other
Psychological flexibility is a term that is needed now more than in ages. All of one’s own feelings as well as processing them is important, but it is also important to understand that others go through the same frustrations and unpleasant things. For the others, the problems may just occur in slightly different contexts. People in different ages, different hobbies, different professions, in all different population groups have their own difficulties. None of this should lead to anger being directed at other groups. From outside, one cannot know how the pandemic is treating another person, what else is going on in the person’s life. Therefore, it is not a good idea to make comparisons. Recognising and understanding this is a key factor when we strive together toward better times.
Time for getting serious
As we are looking for resources, it is also important to remember to take things seriously.
-Respect, humility, and even anxiety are coping mechanisms. They help us take things seriously and cope.
Humour is known to be one way of dealing with things, but sometimes it might also be necessary to get serious. Taking into account the seriousness of the situation can help to create meaningfulness and give rise to compliance with, for example, safety regulations. A realistic attitude also helps to develop one's own pro-active preparation for different situations.
-Recently, we have in turn received good and hopeful news, in turn new worrying news. For this reason, as well, it is good to create several plans for the future as if you had plan-b, plan-c and plan-d. Thus, a potentially worse situation may be easier to cope with if you have prepared for it in advance at some level.
Time for seeking help
Things should not get too serious. If anxiety and fatigue do not subside, or if they exceed one’s tolerance, help should be sought. Turunen emphasizes that applying for help is very important, and the Finnish people have already started in the right direction here.
Help should be sought at a very low threshold, and this phenomenon is already visible. The demand for preventive services seems to be on the rise, which is a great thing.
Even a small conversation can sometimes be of key importance when you feel like you cannot cope anymore.
Time for coping
Human being is ultimately a biological entity whose purpose is to cope . The most comforting message stands out from the midst of Turunen's extensive expertise:
-The ability to pull through can be trusted.
This is a message the City of Kuopio also wants to trust. Together, taking each other into consideration, we shall make it. And yet again about that resilience. According to Turunen, it has a tendency to develop:
-In the future, encountering similar experiences will no longer be so difficult. After this ordeal, we will be doing even better.