Encouraged through the crisis



Corona has a firm grip on the world. Fear is spreading. Why so many people are affected and how we can all deal with this feeling gently in this particular situation is explained by Uwe M. Glatz. The german expert is a specialist in surgery and has studied „religion and psychotherapy“ at the Ev. Tabor University (Marburg/Germany). Dealing with threatening situations is part of his daily work.



The SARS-CoV-2 corona virus keeps the world in suspense and paralyzes public life. Why do people react to this with fear and hamster purchases?


Uwe Glatz:

Fear and worry are very human feelings that we all know. Unknown and potentially threatening situations can trigger fear. I experience that in my daily work in the hospital. The problem is: We then subconsciously no longer judge a situation on the basis of real conditions, but on the basis of past experience. We either had these experiences ourselves in our own lives or they were passed on to us through the collective memory of society. As a result, we overreact when we are anxious and let our fear guide us in our actions.


What does that mean in the current situation?


A lot is still unclear in the current corona crisis. All of a sudden, the concern for your own health and the well-being of your own family comes to the fore. Since Covid-19 can be fatal, there is an existential fear. I or my loved ones could die from this disease. Almost all of us have experienced and mourned the loss of a loved one in our lives. Our ancestors had the same experience. The topic of death and illness has occupied people of all ages and cultures. The experience gained was passed on from generation to generation through genetic mechanisms and learned behaviour.


And that leads to hamster purchases and panic reactions?


Yes, because the instinct to survive is activated by the existing uncertainty and the existential concern. We are suddenly closest to ourselves. We act irrationally and selfishly when we let fear guide us. Ruthlessness and selfishness are triggered by fear. We only think of ourselves. The fatal thing is that we - as a community - are much stronger - both mentally, spiritually and physically.


What consequences could this have for my personal thinking and acting?


What is decisive is how I deal with the feeling of fear as an individual and how I behave. This personal behaviour is then transferred to my environment. In this way, I can also strengthen and support social thinking step by step as an individual.


What can this look like in concrete terms?


The first and most important step should be to keep calm. In practical terms, it helps in a scary situation to take a few deep breaths. Blood and brain are increasingly supplied with oxygen. Heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Body and soul can relax. The stress and panic reaction subsides. This clears the mind. There are helpful approaches on how I can steer my fear from this troubling situation into a meaningful path.


Which approaches do you mean?


Get information from trustworthy sources. But take care: information is important, but for a limited time and not always being online, for example to follow a Corona news ticker. This does not help in the personal situation and only promotes the threatening feeling.


But the flood of information is hardly manageable, especially in a fearful situation.

How do I deal with it?


Above all, we should focus on what we can personally influence. Wash hands several times a day with soap, sneeze in the elbow, avoid hand contact with door handles and avoid shaking hands. Just to name a few examples. As a side effect, if we remain friendly and calm, we will help to reduce general tension.


The Dutch Christian Corrie ten Boom, who gave shelter to numerous Jews during the Second World War and who survived the deportation to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, once said: "Courage is fear that prayed." How can I find courage like this in the current situation?


We can use the corona crisis to take care of our mental and spiritual health again. The encouragement “Don't fear” is a promise that we find very often in the Bible. Prayer, meditation and contemplation are good ways to counteract the emerging fear. As mentioned, we are currently coming into contact with existential questions. In prayer, I look away from my fear towards the life-giving power of God that is in all of us. It’s waiting to be activated. This broader perspective and the resulting trust also strengthens my immune system and makes me less susceptible to fear and disease.


What about contact with other people? Should I now see a potential danger for me in everyone?


No, definitely not. Here too it is important to remain calm. Keep in touch with other people. The currently recommended, extensive retreat into a direct family environment does not mean to isolate yourself socially. Exchanging your feelings with a familiar person is particularly helpful and counteracts isolation. Locking yourself up only increases the fear spiral. Modern telecommunications make an exchange possible even without personal contact and over long distances. For example, I asked myself when did I call my school friend or my parents the last time. Now I have the opportunity to do so.



The interview may be published, linked and reprinted free of charge, provided the source is mentioned. We look forward to receiving a specimen copy or a link.