As uncertainty surrounding the rapidly spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) increases, so does our attention to it. And because of this uncertainty, many of us feel a lack of control — something people are wired to want.
To overcome this lack of agency, we choose to respond quickly in an effort to exert a form of power over our general lack thereof. What we don’t realize though, is the detrimental effect these short-term decisions can have in the long-term.
Think of it like a domino effect. We start with growing uncertainty, which leads us to overly consume news and updates about the virus. Taking in all this negative information can have drastic effects on our stress and anxiety levels.
To combat this, we try to focus our attention on things we can control — like prevention. We saw people more frequently washing their hands, practicing social distancing and stocking up on cleaning products.
As the author of this article states, “but once those stocks dwindled, people still felt like they needed to assert some control, so there was an additional run on toilet paper, paper towels, and bottled water — purchases that make somewhat less sense (and certainly weren’t being advised by experts).”
While making these purchases may temporarily put people at ease, it triggers an endless cycle that ends up hurting the situation more than it helps. We’re not all to blame though, as this article outlines the psychological reasons behind why we are so quick to act and make spur of the moment decisions in times of crisis.
Take a moment to read this article, reflect, and work to make decisions based on careful deliberation as more information is released about COVID-19 each day.
“All of which is to say that in times of (relatively) slow-developing existential crises like a pandemic, it is best to take your time when making decisions rather than acting on gut feelings. Those quick actions may reduce some of your anxiety in the short-run, but they are likely to create more problems than they solve.”