Kyle MacDonald is a leading Psychotherapist and Mental Health Advocate in New Zealand. He writes a weekly column for the NZ Herald, is the co-host of the long running Newstalk ZBs mental health focused show ‘The Nutters Club’ and was a panellist at our Sustinere event at Westmoreland last year where we discussed mental health in relation to the hospitality industry. In this piece, Kyle discusses the feelings we may be experiencing following lockdown here in New Zealand, and has some advice for us as we all re-emerge from our Alert Level 4 restrictions. For more on Kyle and his work, head to: psychotherapy.nz
You could be forgiven for thinking that when we moved from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 here in New Zealand last week that we were ‘free’ and that things are about to get back to ‘normal’ – as seemingly everyone scrambled out the door to (socially distance) and queue for their favourite burger or espresso. But for many it wasn’t so easy to head out the door – and for those of you who found this a relative freedom a little more challenging than others, you are not alone. What you’re feeling is completely okay.
Anxiety is defined as fear in the absence of a clear and present threat. So, anxiety is felt and is present when a definite threat is not really there. But for the last six weeks, there has been a threat, a real threat: Covid-19. We are all living in the midst of a global pandemic, something none of us have ever experienced before, and something very real. So, if what we’re feeling isn’t anxiety, then what we’re feeling is a valid fear. And with fear comes avoidance – it’s the natural survival response we as humans have in built to any threat – it’s that ‘run for the hills!’ feeling.
Humans learn fear very quickly. And in the last few months we have witnessed how quickly much of the world has moved into a state of ‘lockdown’. This speed at which the restraints on our everyday lives have been applied globally is proof as to how efficient fear is as a teacher and motivator. However, because we learn the lesson of fear so well, and adopt it so quickly as a response, it can be very hard to unlearn.