For the last two months every action we've taken has been focused on keeping safe. But focusing on safety comes with a darker flipside - fear. Fear isn’t rational. Instead, it is a natural, powerful, and primitive human emotion we usually prefer to avoid. Our instinct is to protect ourselves from it, and during a pandemic where we can’t ‘see’ the bad guy it leaves us adrift. Focusing on safety messaging helps anchor us, encouraging behaviours that will protect us from the virus. It helps us tuck our fears into the back of our mind.
Photo supplied by Nick Abrams, unsplash.com
So what happens when safety measures shift and our anchor isn’t quite so straightforward?
The world is slowly re-opening and being able to stay at home won’t always be feasible.
The first thing we need to know is that feeling fear/anger/stress is normal. Yes. In a time when that word seems over-used or no longer means what it used to mean – how you might feel is perfectly normal. You are not paranoid. You don’t have to explain yourself, and you are not alone. All of us are going to experience fear at some point as we move into this next stage of COVID-19 life, and recognising that is the first step to being able to harness it to help us make the right choices for ourselves, and our families.
With fear, comes divisive behaviour.
The changes we’ve been through have made us tired. Even if we’ve handled those changes well. So when we have to adapt again it will be a strain. You won’t have the same adrenaline to draw on and you might react in ways you don’t expect.
You’ll be excited to see people but you’ll be hyper-vigilant as well. Sometimes you’ll forget what is safe, or they will. Sometimes something will happen that you can’t avoid (and perhaps that the other person couldn’t help – you don’t know their circumstances) and you have to think about how you’d react. Especially if you are a parent because that will be a reaction you’ll end up role modelling to your kids.
So how will you choose to handle those moments?
At Clunes Neighbourhood House we are exploring these questions as we think about the environment we want to create when we re-open to the public (most likely at the beginning of Term 3). We are thinking about how you can stay safe without feeling a different kind of isolation – the kind that comes from making the right choices for you, but different to those around you.
How will we tackle this at Clunes Neighbourhood House?
Slowly. We won’t rush. It’s great that restrictions are easing, and it’s great that (hopefully) infection rates are remaining low. We want to see everybody (not that talking with you via the phone, delivering services remotely or Zoom activities haven’t been great!) but we want to do it as safely as possible. So we are taking it slowly – undertaking training with all our auspiced groups and volunteers, and phasing opening gradually.
By taking our time we give ourselves the opportunity to gently get it right for all of us – and gently seems the way to go for us all right now. So sorry Hare. We are going to take our cue from the Tortoise on this one.
AUTHOR: Lana de Kort