The last few days have been critical for many people because of COVID-19. The closure of schools, universities and offices as well as the cancellation of many events have begun to change the rhythm of daily life. The pervasive question of what to eat has acquired a new theme, « panic buying.” Panic buying has proliferated amidst the global spread of the new coronavirus, with consumers around the world stockpiling products such as hand sanitizer, canned foods and toilet paper. But acting in this way increases the stress and anxiety of people and is actually detrimental to their well-being. Why act selfishly instead of seeking the good of others?

Stop Panic Buying

When you see people buying things in excess, you wonder why they do it. Experts say it is because of fear of the unknown and the belief that a dramatic event deserves a dramatic response. Professor Taylor of the University of British Columbia and author of the book The Psychology of Pandemics says that panic buying gives people a sense of control. He also says that panic buying can be understood as the intersection of three powerful psychological phenomena: herd behavior, aversion to loss and regret. (Perry, 2020)

Another explanation for this behavior is that people are receiving conflicting messages about the risk of coronavirus. Panic buying also tends to cause more panic due to a psychological phenomenon known as FOMO (fear of missing out) syndrome. Professor Garg said that some people shop in this way because “they think if this person is buying it, if my neighbour is buying it, there has to be a reason and I need to get it too.” (McIndoe, 2020)

How should we manage panic buying? Information plays a key role in understanding that panic buying will not actually make the situation any better. Quality information sources are always vital to avoid rumors and misunderstandings. A good way to stop panic buying is via official statements from authorities regarding the supply of products. In addition, it is very important that everyone behaves responsibly and thinks of others. Irresponsible panic buying can have serious consequences for society because when individual panic buying is carried out collectively, that is what can lead to price speculation or low supply for high-risk individuals who need things like face masks more than the general population (Lufkin, 2020). Acting responsibly means maintaining a supply of essential products, but avoiding stockpiling.

Being prepared does not necessarily mean stockpiling supplies. On the contrary, if people stockpile more than necessary that deprives health workers and at-risk populations of their needs. Just remember that there is no need to buy more food than you normally would at your local grocery store. That will result in keeping essentials like food, medicine and cleaning supplies on hand. Likewise, do not stop buying food and drinks like coffee, chocolate, tea, beer or snacks, even if they are not strictly essential. Such items can make a big difference in your mental health and well-being.

Mental Health and Well-being

How can we be more relaxed and improve our well-being? According to many experts and health organizations, they suggest different ways to keep a cool head such as: connecting and chatting with your friends, family or work colleagues. Connections in general are important for mental well-being. For example, you can connect with other people in similar situations such as friends from university or school, work colleagues, or family members via email, phone or skype. You can also write letters or e-mails, or make phone calls to people with whom you haven’t had any contact lately. Check in on your friends who live alone.

Another way is to be active. If you feel anxious, the best way to comfort yourself is through activity which positively contributes to your physical and mental well-being. For example, there are games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises that can help. If you have a garden, you can walk, look at nature or sunbathe, these activities can encourage feelings of happiness and peace.

In addition, continuing to learn is another suggestion for improving and maintaining our mental well-being. Reading good books and watching good movies, listening to podcasts and TV series are absolutely on the list of things to do during this time of social distancing. The last suggestion is to give encouragement and support to your family, friends and colleagues.

Gratitude and Well-Being

Stress and anxiety rates are increasing every day due to COVID-19. One way to fight these problems is through gratitude. According to Huffington (2019) gratitude is an antidote to living in a stressful world. Gratitude helps us readjust and gives us perspective. In fact, gratitude is the beginning. And when we practice it, it sets off a chain reaction of positive benefits. Living in a state of gratitude is our gateway to grace – and a vital part of our well-being.

The Oxford clinical psychologist Mark Williams suggests the “ten finger gratitude exercise,” in which once a day you list ten things you’re grateful for and count them out on your fingers. Another exercise suggested by Huffington (2019) is to write down a list of positive events at the end of the day – and why the events made them happy – that lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night. Additionally, you can place your list of things you’re grateful for in a jar where you see them day by day.

Gratitude not only makes us feel good, but also has a useful function when life is hard. Grateful people tend to deal with stress more intelligently and regulate their negative emotions more skillfully. One of the reasons gratitude is so powerful may be that it helps us deal with stressful, negative, and frustrating situations. Gratitude essentially leads people to see the world through rose-colored glasses. People feel more optimistic about successfully solving their problems, so they are less likely to avoid or neglect them (Hopper, 2019). In addition, when we are grateful, we promote helpful behavior, which is likely to reinforce feelings of trust within a relationship that later strengthens cooperation.

Focus your mind on all the blessings in your life, big and small, and reduce the list of unresolved problems. Don’t stress out because it reduces the defenses of your immune system!

Wilma Ticona Huanca
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