One of the things I remember clearly from my psychology classes at the university was the early child development and the fact that fear is something we learn! YES! We have a few basic reactions that are part of the fight or flight mechanisms that keep us attentive and alive, but most of the fears are actually learned.
Fear of falling and loud noises (probably a few more) are those natural fears, primitive and protective. Fear of snakes, dark, spiders or coronavirus, are behaviours we learned — because mother told us that dark will eat us, or we saw our usually fearless father screaming like a girl when seeing a spider. These fears are influenced by our environment and culture.
Fear is an emotional reaction and everyone express it differently. Some people get startled and giggle, others develop phobias. What is real is the danger! Fear is the way we perceive it.
The ocean is dangerous — fact! Yet some people jump into it and trust their instinct that as long as they swim, have shore on sight and can touch the bottom with their feet they are safe! Others will scream and run when a cold wave touch their toes. Perception!
And perception has a lot to do with our knowledge and capabilities. If I do not know to swim obviously the fear of water is protecting me and I know that entering into it could kill me. But if I know to swim and I am aware of all the risks and work on preventing them I feel safe and though ocean still represents the real danger I am not afraid.
So, when you are afraid and start panicking the best thing to do is to take a shot of reality. Be informed and be critical about things you hear and read. Nowadays is very easy to get flooded with the number of information and confused about those you can trust. Just because it is out there does not mean it is true. Use trusted sources of information and most importantly, use your common sense when deciding your actions.
While waiting for the vaccines, the best way to protect yourself is to be informed, critical and use your common sense! And of course, wash your hands and wear a mask!
The antidote for fear is knowledge!