VU Psychologist Antanas Kairys - How to Avoid Panic During Quarantine?

Antanas Kairys

In this time, it is crucial to follow reliable, authoritative sources, as rumours and false news spread rapidly in society and social networks. It is also important to stay calm and find other activities while you are at home. Professor of Vilnius University Faculty of Philosophy, Institute of Psychology Dr Antanas Kairys advised on LRT radio broadcast "Ryto Allegro" how to avoid panic during the quarantine and how to find new ways to spend time at home.

According to Prof A. Kairys, it is natural that when facing a major threat, which is completely incomprehensible and new, the anxiety is on a high level. Therefore, one of the methods people use to control a threat is by trying to protect in a way that they know how - by stocking up on food and other essentials. However, the psychologist notes that today there is a huge amount of information that also needs to be controlled in order to avoid panic.

“One of the key things to keep in mind is to control the use of media. The best way to raise anxiety and heightened fear is to keep up to date with news on portals and other sources of information, reading Facebook posts. One of the best ways to avoid this is to take up a “media diet” - to limit the amount of information you use to one reading per day or so, and not to read everything that comes up, but to select only the information that is reliable,” said A. Kairys.

According to the psychologist, by distancing ourselves from the intense flow of news, we have a unique opportunity to live slowly, discover a slow time. Usually, during workdays, especially in big cities, people are always in a rush and the current situation allows us to get off the Internet for a couple of hours and do other things, like reading a book.

“Being in isolation is a real challenge, so you need to use this time for activities that you did not have time for before - maybe do your hobbies, or just sit back and do nothing. However, it is important not to lose the routine. What used to give structure to our day, getting up, going to work, and other, is now gone. So we have to create new routines - getting up, going to bed, having lunch, creating a way to feel at peace, and control our time,” advised the psychologist.

A. Kairys notes that this period causes more tension because family members spend much more time together. In this case, there is a natural increase in friction and conflict at home. The expert suggests evaluating the needs of another person and understanding that their attitudes towards the same situation may differ.

“The best advice is to have a conversation, figure things out and not ignore the other person’s needs. Isolating at home does not require social isolation and limiting the use of media content should not be a restriction on communication. Keeping in touch with other people or relatives, especially those who live alone, for whom it is extremely important," said the expert.

He notes that the uncertainty and threat situation create a space for the spread of false information, which also contributes to panic in the society. Therefore, A. Kairys proposes to evaluate this information thoroughly.

"We have already heard rumours that the virus has been spread by Russia, USA, China, Bill Gates, and these rumours are also natural, because we have a situation that is not completely clear. We have no definitive knowledge of where the virus originated, how it spreads, and when there is a lack of information, conspiracy theories emerge, which is typical of the Internet, social networking space. New information and interpretations are spreading every day, so we have to be vigilant because it is very difficult to check it and find out if it is true,” advised A. Kairys.

More information about how to avoid fake news about the coronavirus here.

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