IIn Italy, they sing and share recipes. In France, humor saves the day. In Spain, communal stairs have become the new race tracks, and in Germany, hackers are generally busy coding anti-corona applications.
As hundreds of millions of Europeans languish in confinement, people are finding increasingly inventive ways to entertain themselves – and to counter what continental psychologists warn of the very real risks of confinement.
Like everyone else, the 60 million Italian citizens, who were detained on March 9, were “invited to make sacrifices,” said Sara Raginelli, a psychologist in Ancona. “And since we live in a pretty dramatic way, our mental health is put to the test.”
In a survey conducted during the first week of detention in Italy, 93% of respondents said they felt at least a little anxious, while 42% described a marked decrease in their mood and 28% said that they weren’t sleeping well.
Italians are entitled to a free online consultation from the Ministry of Health, which warned of a “psychological emergency”, saying that people risk being “overwhelmed by fear of an insidious virus that has banned us to hug and be close to others. “
Some 9,000 psychologists are involved in the #psicologionline program, offering telephone or video consultations also aimed at countering the “heartbreaking effects of the number of deaths per day, war scenes and the risk of easy infection if we don’t stay at home.” House”.
A certain degree of anxiety, of course, is only normal. Borwin Bandelow, of Göttingen in Germany, said that humans had become social creatures in order to survive, so isolation was mostly an unnatural state. “In the past, we lived in tribes, and those who separated from these tribes were very unlikely,” he told Der Spiegel..
This meant that isolation “can cause the development of pathological anxiety conditions,” he said. But overall, the long-term negative effects of physical isolation should be greatly mitigated by the fact that everyone knows about them, said Bandelow, who did a special study of fear.
“As soon as an exceptional situation affects many people, the effect is less strong … During the war in Yugoslavia, the patients who usually suffered from panic attacks were no more frightened than the next person. In fact, the number of panic attacks has decreased as they have suddenly been confronted with other very concrete things that they should have feared. They needed to protect themselves and therefore needed to control their bodies. “
Germans who suffer from anxiety or panic in the face of an avalanche of news about coronaviruses can turn to a fearless information service, angstfrei.news, which publishes a brief overview of the news twice a day so they can stay informed without being overwhelmed by horror stories.
French psychologists echo the importance of realizing that the pain is shared. While everyone will react differently, we must all “be able to make sense of the situation,” said Aurélia Schneider. “It will give us psychological protection. It is a question of knowing that it is not an individual and isolated suffering, but a collective suffering. “
In Spain, however, clinical psychologist Albert Soler warned of the dangers of trying to remain falsely optimistic. “When things go wrong, being forced to be positive can be positively harmful,” he said. “Instagram positivism is dangerous at best – but now it’s even worse.”
In terms of practical advice, European psychologists mainly stress the importance of staying in touch and staying busy, if necessary with the help of daily task lists. In ItalyRaginelli’s advice was to “keep in touch with others” by all possible means and as much as possible.
Rosella De Leonibus, psychologist in Perugia, said that staying active was of vital importance. What mattered, she said, was “all that is action – with result.” Passive is useless; passivity makes you anxious and increases anxiety. “
Erik Scherder, professor of neuropsychology at VU University in Amsterdam, said that the crisis presented a challenge and an opportunity: exercise. “The biggest gains are for those who are very sedentary,” he said. From Standaard. “Who is most of us.”
The Belgians, who went into detention on March 17, the spokesperson for the national crisis center, Benoît Ramacker, regularly receives down-to-earth suggestions on how to live their best life locked up, which advises basic daily activities such as cooking, reading , gardening and DIY.
“The psychosocial dimension is very important in this crisis,” said Ramacker during a briefing, urging people not to spend all day on social media and to establish a routine that structures their day. “You can do a lot at home.”
But there will necessarily be tensions. When the inevitable rows burst, Jean-Luc Aubert from Nantes offers to isolate himself for a moment in the bathroom. “Everyone is a little anxious, so it doesn’t take much for everyone to be upset, angry, worse,” he said. “We have to recognize it, be very careful and on our guard.”
Whether or not they listened to psychologists, millions of people across the continent have developed coping strategies. Gregarious by nature and accustomed to living the outdoors, the Spanish – most of whom, like many Europeans, live in apartments – find loneliness, silence and confinement particularly difficult.
Rooftop terraces have become a popular place for workouts, although not everyone has access to them. Many began to go up and down the common staircase. One father said his daughter continued to play volleyball at home, using a roll of toilet paper as a ball to avoid breakage.
Many also faced the delicate challenge of educating the elderly parents they usually visit at least once a week on the use of mobile technology. “I taught my 82-year-old mother how to make video calls,” said Barcelona resident Reme. “Now we can’t stop him anymore.”
The Italians, who also suffer from having to lead an indoor life, applauded the world from the earliest stages of their confinement in sing or play musical instruments from their balcony every night in a solidarity demonstration, although reports suggest that it has declined over the past week.
Many have now started doing yoga online or sharing their fitness regimes. Others write, paint and cook more – and share their recipes online. Many join the great chef Massimo Bottura for his live Instagram show.
“This is not a masterclass, it is about 40 cooking with our family,” said Bottura. “We just want to have fun and show the world that with a few things – a table, a few ingredients, a family – we can have fun.”
Simona Fabrizio, another international chef and owner of Sagraincasa in Orvieto, Umbria, asks his followers to choose an ingredient – eggs, tuna, chicken – and create a recipe with four additional ingredients, then share their photos.
In Germany, 42,000 programmers and software designers gathered online for a mass hackathon. #Wirvsvirus (us against the virus) has found possible solutions to problems such as tracking viruses, improving inter-hospital communication, distributing food to the homeless and helping farmers find food. people to bring the harvest, and ended with a mass celebration on YouTube and Slack. A jury will decide which projects will be supported, with government funding guaranteed for the best.
Like many across Europe, The people of Brussels began to applaud the caregivers at their windows and balconies at 8 p.m. every evening. Belgian King Philippe beats a white flag from the Royal Palace in tribute.
In France, confined since March 17 and authorized to go out – on pain of a heavy fine – only to buy essential items, exercise or walk the dog, humor has – for the moment – become a pillar of social media conversation. The comedians publish a new video every day.
Photoshopped images of exhausted dogs (“Everyone in the building accompanied me today; when will it end?”) Abound. President Emmanuel Macron, his face digitally aged for a decade, informs the nation: “Compatriots, you can now go out.” A false tourist guide promises you “the essential guide to the most beautiful unknown corners of your place of residence”.
Videos of neighbors cycling around the balcony and roommates playing soccer have gone viral while on Twitter, individuals share their locking misfortune stories: “My mom:” Tired of spending all day on your computer? “Me:” I run a web marketing department. “Mother:” So? ” tweeted a.
Another lamented that after only four days of confinement, her mother could no longer bear it: “She told me to go out – and she would pay the fine.”
Report by Angela Giuffrida, Kate Connolly, Kim Willsher, Jennifer Rankin and Stephen Burgen.