Although the removal of curfews and the possibility of returning to the old normal days excite many people, this can be a source of stress for some people. Specialist Clinical Psychologist İpek Özaktaç from İSÜ Medical Park Gaziosmanpaşa Hospital shared information about scientific studies on returning to old life without masks.
“In an article published in the Scientific American journal, an American woman who contracted COVID-19 in November 2020 and received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in February 2021 was cited as an example for Cave Syndrome.
With the announcement by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that individuals who have received the second dose of vaccine can return to their unmasked routine lives before the pandemic, it was stated that the free life that this person dreamed of did not excite him, on the contrary, it caused fear and anxiety. It was also added that he had difficulty even thinking about how to perform activities that would be done in public places, such as going to a restaurant, chatting with a person face-to-face and without a mask in social environments, and getting on a plane.
Referring to another study conducted by the American Psychological Association, Özaktaç stated that 49 percent of the participants stated that they were uncomfortable about returning to their old lives, while the rate of those who were vaccinated was 48 percent.
Emphasizing that the pandemic has changed many things in our lives, especially our social and business habits, Özaktaç said, “When we look at our cultural habits, it is quite customary to shake hands, kiss and hug while greeting, but when we see people who shake hands or hug even when we meet our closest ones, Özaktaç said. We feel threatened.
It is also possible to say that the fear of death, which can be seen with the fear of catching a disease in crowded public places, can also occur. As such, safety behaviors such as staying away from the crowd, not making physical contact, washing or disinfecting hands frequently have been added to the daily routine in order to feel safe in terms of health.
Emphasizing that changing a habit can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing at the beginning, Özaktaç stated that this applies to all changes and innovations in life and said:
“Whether the change is positive or negative, the person needs a certain period of time to adapt to that new situation. For example, getting a promotion as a result of high performance at work is a positive change, while an undesirable change of place due to poor performance is a negative change, but every time the change is positive or negative, it is a positive change. In both cases, a certain time is needed to adapt to the new job, title, environment or, if any, new colleagues. At this point, it should not be forgotten that each individual has a strong capacity to adapt to changes.”
Emphasizing that although Cave Syndrome sounds like a psychiatric disease, it is definitely not a disease or a diagnosis, Özaktaç said, “Cave Syndrome is actually a very understandable, ordinary and human condition.
Many people state that we do not feel motivated and motivated to go back to their old habits before the pandemic, to leave the comfort of home and start working again at work, to get into traffic stress, to go back to formal clothes, to attend face-to-face meetings. At this point, it will be important to find out what thoughts you have about returning to your old routine, what are the issues that really worry you, and how these thoughts make you feel.”
Reminding that the pandemic is an important breaking point for each of us, Özaktaç made the following suggestions:
“Breaking points are traumatic experiences that threaten our physical and psychological integrity. Therefore, it can be expected and normal to feel anxiety, fear, and reluctance at the moment due to a sudden return to normalcy after living with these feelings and thoughts for more than a year. .
However, if you are very anxious about going out of the house, and if you observe that this situation negatively affects your daily functioning by causing deterioration in your sleep, appetite, work life or human relations, you can seek support from a mental health professional.