This is How to Flatten the Covid-19 Panic Curve

Locked in your house, with a pantry full of canned food (if you’re lucky) and a dwindling toilet paper supply (if you’re not), it’s hard to think big thoughts about traveling the globe again.

Pandemics tend to have that effect. You know, keeping people focused on things like not dying.

Of course, the daily flood of scary headlines doesn’t help matters. Neither does the chaos and confusion that results from facing something we’ve never seen before. And the mixed messages we’re getting from our leaders.

Wear masks. Don’t wear masks. Stay at home. But get plenty of fresh air. Stay 6 feet away. Or is it 27 feet?

It’s a wonder any of us harbor thoughts of ever leaving our homes again.

However, in a recent interview with Travel Weekly, psychiatrist Dr. Kris Naudts discussed the stages we pass through emotionally when faced with a pandemic like Covid19, specifically as it pertains to world travel, and expressed optimism for what will happen once we flatten the “panic curve.”

“First, there’s denial, followed by irritation, even anger that conveniences are less available. They’re angry that they can’t travel,” he said. “Then comes fear. But it doesn’t last forever. In fact, it’s followed by a heightened interest in life.”

“The panic curve does flatten, for sure,” he said. “And the thirst for travel content does come back. What we’re seeing is that normal is not quite normal. There’s a redefined normal…there’s the feeling that [even if] normal might not be like normal before, there’s optimism, an irrepressible desire to reengage with life.”

Can you identify with that sentiment? Do you see yourself after months of lockdown craving a flight to some faraway place? In my mind, I envision winding lines of people waiting to go through security with smiles on their faces, happily ignoring the normal inconveniences of international travel.

But first, as Dr. Naudts notes, we’ve got to deal with this pesky panic curve.

Now, to flatten the curve of infections, we are told to stay home and practice social distancing. Simple instructions, albeit not easy to follow.

Addressing the panic curve is a bit more complicated because to do it effectively we’ll need to rewire our minds, which are predisposed by evolution to accumulate negative data from the environment.

Zen Matrix has a tool called “The Spin Cycle” dedicated to helping people with Covid-induced panic disorder. [Send us an email if you’d like to find out more information.]

But here are five simple suggestions for keeping your panic levels down without keeping your head in the sand regarding Covid19 safety measures.

  1. Spend no more than 10 minutes per day getting the latest Covid19-related news. And consume your information via the written word. Turn off cable news.
  2. Remind yourself what fresh air can do for you by taking long walks outside. Practice social distancing, of course, but do not stay permanently in your home.
  3. Begin planning your next travel excursion. The dates might have to remain TBD, but the details of your voyage do not. Get as visceral as possible.
  4. Meditate twice per day for at least 20 minutes. This might be the first time in your life when “I don’t have time” is a flagrantly flimsy excuse.
  5. Host a Zoom happy hour with friends from other countries (if you have them) or at least from places outside your own hometown.

The bottom line: There’s a lot of room to wander between indifference and panic. And if you can find a sweet spot somewhere in the middle, say, in the area of “healthy concern,” you might find yourself pricing flights online sooner rather than later.