Manual against panic for the new Coronavirus

Reflect and better orient your thoughts and attitudes
Fear is always fear of a determined danger. This innate self-defence system protects us by reacting to the stimuli of experiencing a danger from which we then flee or against which we fight. It is a powerful and useful emotion. However, many dangers do not depend on our experience, rather we learn about them through the media or the confused and paradoxical messages that run on the internet. Then, the danger seems excessive and fear becomes disproportionate to the objective risks, turning into panic and damaging us. In fact, panic is not a rational approach to danger but an overwhelming feeling that paralyzes and oppresses us, causing a withdrawal from the world and from ourselves. This type of anxiety is characterised by a general apprehension towards the most frightening of all possibilities: the unconscious anticipation of the worst case scenario as a projection of infinite negative possibilities directed to the future. For example, the panic following the events of 09/11 had defined itself in individual counterproductive choices that, collectively, became a huge damage (the anxiety of flying led many people to travel by car, which caused a great number of road accidents). Events of this type, unknown, rare and new, such as the spread of Coronavirus, cause more general panic than much more frequent dangerous events that we take for granted.
It is useful to have some “keys” that can help us avoid two possible mistakes in relation to the events, that is to overestimate or underestimate (or deny) the problem:

Stick to facts
Coronavirus is a contagious virus, out of 100 people who get sick, 80 recover spontaneously, 15 have manageable problems in the healthcare environment, only 5 have more serious problems and among these deaths are about half and generally in subjects with other important diseases.
Don’t confuse a single cause with a collateral damage
So far, coronavirus-related deaths have been estimated a hundred times lower than the ones caused by common flu every year. Yet this 1% is added and is perceived differently because nobody notice a strong annual variability.

Do not let yourself be influenced by collective panic
If panic becomes collective, individuals experience the need to act in order to get through anxiety, and this stress can generally end in irrational and unproductive choices. Getting caught up in collective panic leads us to ignore the objective data and our judgment can weaken. While doing something, we often end up doing wrong things and ignoring simple, but very effective protective actions.
Maintain the balance between the feeling of fear and the objective risk.
This simple figure allows you to see the fear of the coronavirus in perspective to its real effects.

Avoid compulsive search of informations.
The obsessive search for invulnerability is counterproductive because it confuses us and makes us excessively fearful and unable to face the future. In any case, it is good to use and share reliable information sources following what is known and documentable.
– Ministry of Health: http://www.salute.gov.it/nuovocoronavirus
Istituto Superiore di Sanità: https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/

Reduce overexposure to the media
The media spread information that can produce distorting effects because they focus on news in rapid and disturbing sequence, this being referred to individual cases rather than to complex and objective data of the phenomenon. This kind of news is made to gain attention and it’s mostly expressed by alarming reports that increase the disproportion between objective danger and personal fears.

Protect yourself as a responsible citizen
Coronavirus is not a phenomenon that affects us individually, but each individual decision influences the whole community. It is good to act along a civil liability. Regular use of certain elementary actions (such as washing your hands often, avoiding contact, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, etc.) reduces the risk of contagion for yourself, those close to you and the community as a whole. So, observe official indications of the Public Health Authority: they are a precious protection for you and everyone else.

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