In the new normal that the world is living through, not sanitising hands enough or easing up hand washing and leniency while making trips outside is becoming common.
The perma-vigilance has led to a burnout in people. There is a name for it — caution fatigue which is ‘low motivation to follow or comply with safety guidelines’. It is quite common to see people wearing masks, but pulling them down below their mouths to talk and not maintaining social distance.
Dr G Prasad Rao, president of Asian Federation of Psychiatric Association, is of the opinion that people were more cautious at the beginning of the lockdown. “Self-preservation and fear were big motivators for following safety precautions. A persistent denial has developed once restrictions eased. A ‘don’t care’, ‘if it happens, let’s see’ attitude has made people less empathetic and negligent about public health since they don’t see an end to the pandemic yet,” explains Dr Prasad Rao. Experts say it is the brain which is to blame for it.
“Over bombardment of information and stress of perma-vigilance makes the brain retune itself. The amygdala region of the brain that registers fear activates our fight-or-flight reaction, which is communicated in the body through stress hormones. Three months is a long time for the brain to sustain stress so it starts its coping mechanism. The fear factor remains, but since the brain is so fatigued, the sense of urgency about the perceived threat wanes,” admits Dr Bharath Kumar Reddy, psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderguda.
Finding a balance and moving forward is crucial now. It’s important to remind oneself that caution is still worth practising. “Look at the big picture and think positively. When there is anxiety about loved ones getting infected, negative thoughts can increase stress. Don’t give in to that. Reach out to friends and family and talk with them. Doing yoga will help you relax and improve your well-being. It’s not just you, but the world is dealing with this, think about that and take strength from it,” advises Dr S Jayanti, psychologist at Roshni Counselling Center.
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