With millions of people around the world entering isolation to contain the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID19), many people are experiencing stress, fear and anxiety which can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Many countries have or are going into lockdowns, large gatherings and events are being cancelled, some have implemented curfews, supermarkets are emptying out of stocks due to people panic buying, people are working from home and every day more and more measures are implemented to stop the spread of the global pandemic.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, the emotional impact of COVID19 on a person can depend on the person’s personality, experiences, health conditions, social and economic circumstances, the community they find themselves in and accessibility to resources amongst others. Those who have preexisting mental health conditions, children and those who are involved in the response to COVID19 are probably experiencing higher levels of stress in this crisis. However, even those who don’t have preexisting health conditions are suffering from fear, worries of one’s own and loved ones health, fearing loss of income or job, changes in lifestyle, difficulty in concentration and loneliness in these times of social distancing. These reactions are triggered by group emotions.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re walking with someone, your rhythm and footsteps tend to align? There is sufficient evidence that we do this synchronization with our emotional behaviours as well. This tends to happen in a less obvious, yet still impactful way with our feelings as well. For example, have you ever talked to someone on the phone, sensed they’re smiling and started smiling too? Emotional contagion is a process where the moods and emotions of an individual are transferred to nearby individuals. Everyday phenomenons can be witnessed in the mirroring of facial expressions, vocalizations, postures and movements with those we surround ourselves with.

Social interactions, whether in a personal or professional setting, commonly involve displays of emotions. There is also some evidence that negative moods are more easily transferred than positive moods. With the world being more interconnected now than ever, this widespread anxiety is a form of emotional contagion. The examples given above are commonplace emotional contagion at a micro-level, however the Covid19 pandemic has given rise to emotional contagion at a macro-level. “I would argue that emotional contagion, unless we get a hold on it, is going to greatly amplify the damage caused by COVID-19,” said Sigal Barsade, Wharton´s management professor, on the Wharton Business Daily show.

Feelenials has curated some self-care guidelines on how to stay emotionally resilient and stop the epidemic of fear:
Routine: when everything around you is changing left and right, it helps to have a routine which creates a sense of control.
Check your sources: access and share only reliable sources as there is a lot of false and questionable information out there, especially on social media.
Keep the ¨coronaversation¨ at a minimun: if talking to friends, family or colleagues, it may be best to speak of the topic only once during the conversation.
Disconnect: avoid watching, listening or reading news that make you feel distressed. Try and focus on governmental policies, corporate announcements and verified articles on practical steps to prepare yourself.
Keep in touch: Just because you’re physically isolated does not mean you have to be lonely, maintain your social networks and make use of the digital world to share your feelings and let go of your worries.
Don’t lose perspective: stay informed but do not focus on things that are out of your control. Reflect and reframe your thoughts when they begin to spiral.
Be mindful: breathe, meditate, paint, read, exercise or whatever helps you ease your mind.

If you start feeling overwhelmed with your emotions and find it interfering with your work, school or interpersonal relationships, consider reaching out to a mental health professional, like a therapist or psychologist, or other helplines available in your country.