Living in the New World
The year 2020 coincided with the emergence of a new and unknown threat to mankind. It started out as a local problem, specific to a certain area when COVID-19 was first found in China, but it instantly became a global problem. It showed us all so clearly how much people interact across borders day to day and how inevitably undivided our world is.
How are you coping with this new situation?
You can find an article on how to maintain your mental health in such an abnormal situation in the following thread, so here in this article, I would like to share with you what I really feel is essential to keep in mind when facing this new situation.
Identify the threat – getting reliable information.
In order to cope with life-threatening danger, it is critical to understand exactly what the threat is. If the threat remains mysterious, you never know how much or in what way you should be careful. Anxiety and fear can grow uncontrollably. The more you know about the true nature of the threat, the more you know how to protect yourself and therefore you can avoid unreasonable fear.
Assess the risk rationally.
When the threat is ambiguous, you may fear everything associated with the threat, and attack it with confusion and hostility. At the beginning, many people might have feared and wanted to avoid people from China, as if every one of them were infected. You may get angry at media reports of discriminatory treatments against infected patients, but anyone could fall prey to such prejudice. On the contrary, some of you may hold an optimistic view that you are infection-proof, or may not adequately distance from others, fearing that it might be taken as a sign that you regard them as infected. However, both of these risky behaviors underestimate the danger. Since the threat will remain “invisible,” it is very difficult to assess the degree of danger calmly and rationally. As such, it becomes all the more important to make a conscious effort to do so.
Do what we can.
In view of the grave situation around the world, we must acknowledge that enormous, irreversible damages beyond our control are being incurred. In the face of such a situation, it is natural to feel indignant and helpless. The greater your sacrifice in this pandemic, the more severe your feeling of depression may be, losing hope and volition. At those times, it is necessary that you put everything aside and rest.
Then, do we have to put our life on the shelf until we “conquer” this threat? Unfortunately, we are likely to be haunted by the anxiety of having this virus around for some time to come, but there are many different ways to deal with anxiety. For example, in Morita therapy, a traditional Japanese psychotherapy, anxiety and desire are regarded as two sides of the same coin. Because you have the desire to live, you have anxiety of dying. You fear failure because you want to succeed. From this perspective, anxiety is not something you can ever be free from but is an integral part of living. If you think that you must wait to take action until after getting rid of anxiety, that time may never come. It is therefore desirable that you take this opportunity to sit down and reflect on what is really important, and start doing the things that you can while avoiding the risks.
Having said that, our mind is not something that is completely under our conscious control.
Even if we want to feel and think that way, we are surviving in this restricted and uncertain world, feeling irritated and anxious, which is very tiring. So, let us be realistic and try to endure this situation, sharing concerns with one another when feeling vulnerable, with the hope of minimizing personal damage.
When you feel unsettled and are not sure what to do, please consider using the Student Support Room as an option. During this period when access to campus is prohibited, you can send us an email to make an appointment for telephone counseling. We hope to be of help in your effort to endure this temporary but difficult situation, and prepare yourself for your life from here on.