You are not alone if this is how you feel about the last couple weeks:
In the midst of this global pandemic, many people’s lives have changed. Many in hospitality are jobless, healthcare professionals are being worked to their physical and mental limits, parents are struggling to balance working from home and ensuring their children still get an education, and our police, fire, and EMS are on the front line.
First responders are in a unique and terrifying position. There is no ‘work from home’ option. The duties of responders are stressful enough as it is. Add on a deadly global pandemic that may or may not show symptoms for 2-14 days, and it’s even more-so. And, good luck trying to keep the CDC’s recommended six-foot distance when you’re trying to give CPR, treat a wound, detain/arrest someone, are getting spit on, etc. You’re worried, your families and loved ones are worried, and no one has any idea what the future holds. Even though it feels like the world has stopped for so many, it hasn’t for you. In fact, you are having to push even harder. How can we cope?
And lastly… what’s up with the panic-buying?
A lot of us had the same thought when people rushed to stores to bulk-buy toilet paper… for a respiratory illness. Understand how the brain operates and it makes a little more sense. Briefly put, when under stress, we experience fight, flight or freeze. The part of the brain responsible for this is the amygdala. The amygdala then communicates to the rest of the body and makes a decision about what it will do. In the meantime, another part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is taking in information that helps make logical decisions and weighs pros and cons. The thing is, if the amygdala is super activated, the prefrontal cortex is silenced and cannot do it’s job. If you’ve ever dealt with a person in crisis, you’ve seen how this works. Person is crying, screaming, and perhaps catastrophizing. You try to reason with them, and it doesn’t work! Instead, you have to first calm them, THEN reason. Same thing goes with our brains. Global pandemic leads to people thinking the world is ending and other catastrophizing thoughts. The amygdala is firing on all cylinders and because panic becomes contagious, and we get addicted to media, nothing calms the amygdala down. So people go into panic-buying mode as a way to calm the amygdala, because in way, they think they are preparing for the end of the world (or something like it). Not until then, can they then look at CDC numbers, realize the relatively low mortality rate, and be more logical. You might be thinking, “well then why didn’t my family go buy a bunch of toilet paper?” Your training has desensitized your amygdala. Your threshold for fight or flight is more than likely much higher than the general population. And if, by chance, you DID go out a buy a bunch of toilet paper, it probably means that a global pandemic is so different than what you’ve trained for, and the threshold when it comes to such is at the same level of everyone else. Either way, I’m not judging.