Is this the effect Dementors have?
We’ve just passed two weeks of staying at home for Circuit Breaker measures.
And it has taken its toll on many people, the young and the old alike.
A general mood of dark despair of varying degrees has taken over – like how I imagine a swarm of dementors looming over our usually bright sunny island of Singapore would be, sucking the joy and hope out of everyone.
Staying at home was at first something we all loved and looked forward to every weekend. What happened then? Why has this period been so rough for almost everyone?
Turns out, Dr. Sheldon Cooper is not the only one who dislikes change. Change of any kind, especially on a national CB magnitude, is not easy. All pop culture reference aside, the constant deluge of news (both real and amplified) about the COVID-19 cases and death rates has an intangibly huge negative impact on all of us.
Throw in the frustration of trying to balance your child’s home-based learning needs with your own work from home tech issues and you’ve got a real pickle on your hands. And you can’t even escape for an hour to have a stress-relief venting with your best friend over a cup of coffee at the nearest cafe.
For some, this intangible sense of anxiety and fear is coupled by real worries of losing their jobs, and being unable to support their families. And many more worried for their friends and loved ones’ safety as they fight at the frontlines to battle COVID-19.
There is also an evolutionary reason why we are more down at this moment. It’s known as the Negativity Bias. Psychologists theorise that humans are more prone to remember or imprint negative events, experiences and news more quickly because we’ve inherited the genes that predispose us to give special attention to those negative aspects of our environments that could be harmful to us. In this way, dwelling on the “bad stuff” is similar to the sensation of pain–it’s our bodies way of keeping us safe. These negative events and experiences also tend to linger longer than positive ones, and this is what is known as the negativity bias.
We are thus more likely to dwell on the alarming news rather than the positive ones during this COVID-19 pandemic. What positive news, you ask? See, there’s that negativity bias at work. In fact, this pandemic has brought out alot of good that is lost amidst the ongoing spike in numbers world-wide. Like how individuals, corporations and governments are all doing their part, and uniting to fight the pandemic, ongoing acts of kindness among strangers, neighbours and friends checking in on each other, volunteers continuing to deliver food to the needy, and world governments coordinating preventive measures with a degree of cooperation that’s not seen before. Israelis and Palestinians are uniting in a joint effort to contain COVID-19.
How about this Instagram page which shows medical staff wearing photos of themselves to make them less scary and intimidating.
It’s been a dark period, and we are looking at more bad news ahead in the upcoming days. And while on some days, it may be next to impossible to find the positive in life, now is the time for us to be kinder to others and also to ourselves, to learn to celebrate small victories and understand that there will be days of back-sliding which is part of the learning and growth process. Perhaps that’s how we can all produce that Patronus charm that can protect us from this dark period ahead.