We are falling over en masse due to the corona crisis: ‘mental wave is coming’
What about my job and am I staying healthy? A large part of the Dutch are seriously concerned about the future. Burnouts are lurking en masse, according to psychologists. “In addition to a second corona wave, there is also a mental wave coming.”
Catering businesses had to close during the lockdown, hardly anyone books an expensive holiday anymore and grandma is sick. We worry ourselves drowsy, how should this continue? And it’s not possible to let off steam either, now that events such as football matches and festivals have been canceled.
Four million Dutch people are about to fall, neuropsychologist Erik Matser estimates. “In a normal situation, the Netherlands has 1 million hidden burnouts. These are people who – when stress increases – fall over within three to six months. The corona crisis has quadrupled that number. We can no longer shake off our worrying thoughts by an accumulation. of bad news. ”
He bases the figures on research by the National Center for Prevention Stress and Burn-Out, which conducted test research (Vitality Mind Challenge) among 427 professionals who have secondary vocational education, higher vocational education or university education. These figures have been passed on to the entire working population.
Matser talks about an emotional pandemic. “If this continues, we will not only have a virological second wave in six months, but also a mental wave. And mental health care is not ready for that.”
“We can no longer shake off our worrying thoughts because of an accumulation of bad news.”
People are creatures of habit, according to psychologist Janske van Eersel. She researched grief in case of job loss. “If we think the job loss is unfair, and that’s the case with corona, it’s more likely that you will get stuck in grief after your dismissal. People get stuck asking: how could this happen?”
It is best for a company to take people by the hand, she advises. “Let me know that things are going badly. Also say it if you do not know, that you cannot look further than three months. Employees appreciate that openness. It prevents dismissal from happening and people leaving bitter and angry.”
If your company itself isn’t open about accounting, ask about it as an employee. “Because worrying about suspicions of dismissal will not get you there.”
Our stress level is much higher than normal due to the corona crisis, the psychologist explains. We are creatures of habit and have lost our routine because of the virus. “Play football on Thursday evenings and go to the cinema on Friday? Those structures are gone, while our head calms down from grip.”
Due to the corona crisis, we have discovered that the world cannot be engineered, Matser believes. He compares it to a war situation. “People are limited in their freedom. Young people cannot meet each other at school, but we can no longer normally say goodbye to loved ones when they die or congratulate each other on good moments.”
He speaks about mass autism: “This imposed behavior does not suit humans. The government really needs to pay attention to the emotional side of the coronavirus.
When we experience stress, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol. If the stress persists for a long time, the cortisol level becomes too high. Your body remains in survival mode.
“We see on brain scans that the hypocampus is getting smaller. We have more trouble remembering things,” says the neuropsychologist.
“Fight or flight. And when all energy is used up and you sit on the couch depressed, the reptilian brain is active. All fighting spirit is gone.”
Permanent brain damage
Long-term negative thoughts also cause cognitive dysfunction, recent research shows. Matser: “It can lead to protein deposits in the brain, which can cause neurological problems. We still have to do a lot of research into this, but that damage to the brain cannot be reversed.”
Our brain consists of three parts, Van Eersel explains. The reptilian brain, the mammal brain and the human brain. The human brain is rational, we analyze and make solid decisions. When the tension increases, the mammalian brain kicks in. “Fight or flight. And when all energy is used up and you sit on the couch depressed, the reptilian brain is active. All fighting spirit is gone.”
The temptation is to linger on the couch with a bag of chips. “Eat well, exercise, and talk to others about your problems. You can really talk yourself depressed or drive yourself crazy. You have tunnel vision. Yes, but thoughts come up. While others may see possibilities.”
She believes that those possibilities are there now too. “Suppose you are a flight attendant at KLM and that attentaat was your dream job. The chance that you will find a job in aviation again is now small. But you are often also communicative and service-oriented. Maybe you can go to a call center with those qualities? ”
You don’t see that option yourself, others do, says the psychologist. “Work with others to find concrete solutions to lower your stress level. For example, you may be concerned about your finances, but then look for concrete actions to reduce your costs.”
By eating well, going to bed on time, and going out every day, you can return to the human brain. “But then you do need others who say ‘quit your negative thoughts now. And when you walk outside, walk consciously. Feel the wind, see the birds.”
Source: RTLNieuws, 2020