Pandemic Again! 100 years since Spanish Flu

We have time to reflect upon our mental health this week, as Sydneysiders are currently in a lockdown for 2 weeks in response to the spreading of the delta variant of Covid-19.  We have plenty of time, as our social events have been cancelled, holidays cancelled and asked to stay at home. Who would know that we can all work from school and schools move to on-line learning?  We now use video conferencing to meet with colleagues rather than in the office.  When we go to the shops, we avoid popular times and wear masks.  This may be surprising; however, this experience is not unprecedented.

In 1918-1919 after the ending of the first world war, a pandemic spread across the globe as soldiers returned home after war.  The pandemic was viral air borne disease that was easily transmitted from person to person. This is now called the Spanish flu.  It is estimated that 50 million people died, although some estimates suggest that it may have been larger up to 100 million people.

The natural human response to danger is fear, so how do we manage our fear?  One response then as now is DENIAL.  Newspaper reports from 1918 suggest that there is “hardly a chance that the disease will spread into America (beyond Europe)”.  In February 2020, Donald Trump twittered that “Coronavirus is very much under control” (from Dr Kirsty Short, Senior lecturer, from the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland).

The antidote to this is to find out the facts.  Get informed from reputable organisations like World Health Organization and NSW Department of Health.   Check out the qualifications of the person writing the article.  From where does the person get expertise from? Finally, find out the commercial interests of the writer/presenter.  What does the person have to gain financially?

Another response is ANXIETY, even PANIC.  It is nature for you to experience a greater level of worry and concern.  Anxiety has lead people to panic shop with shelves becoming empty and it is estimated by “Business Insider reports that the U.S. saw $1.45 billion in toilet paper sales in March 2020, and experienced an 845% increase in demand from 2019.”

The antidote is to turn the dial up on your own supports. Remember, we are in control of the present moment.  It can be helpful to consider the following:

  1. Creatively explore options: is there somewhere different to visit in my local area? Is there a hobby that I revisit or learn a new activity?
  2. Take care of yourself: Make exercise a regular part of your week. Set-up good eating and sleep routines.  Do the things that you enjoy.
  3. Stay connected: Call you friends or arrange to go for a walk with friends.  Say hello to the retail assistant.  Talk through your concerns with trusted friend.
  4. Retrain your thinking: See challenges as opportunities to learn new skills and try something new, for example online interactive games.
  5. Get support: Connect with a psychologist who listen and assist with developing plans and follow through.

Need more support? Our psychologists are happy to speak further about what helps build resilience during time of uncertainty.  Have a look at Our Team profile page to see if there is a psychologist who can take the time to understand who you are as a person and overcome life’s challenges to achieve your personal goals and reach your full potential.








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