This is a reminder for everyone to be mindful of their language around COVID-19.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic” – Dumbledore
Covid-19 News Headlines
“65 million people could be killed by the novel coronavirus”
“We are living in a nightmare”
“Two-thirds of the planet could become infected by coronavirus”
“We will run out of ICU beds by May”
Our language around COVID-19 is adding fuel to a fire that needs to be contained rather than powered. We are using words and phrases that connote worse-case scenarios and fueling the idea of a catastrophe. Words such as ‘nightmare’ and ‘overwhelming’ indicate danger and threat while negative predictions about the potential consequences of the virus induce panic. The result is an unnecessary layer of anxiety added on to an already un-nerving situation.
Change has become a reality to everyday life. People are working from home, businesses have closed, travel and personal events have been delayed or cancelled, and some of us are not able to visit loved ones. It is important to recognize that these are very real stressors and the accompanying emotions such as sadness, anxiety and anger are valid and extremely normal.
What is unhelpful during times of stress, is to hear external messages that are laced with negative connotations and dire predictions about the future. The person who received news that they are no longer able to visit their Grandma doesn’t need to read a headline that “We will run out of ICU beds by May”. The business owner who has been forced to shut down doesn’t need to be told that “We are going into a recession that will be worse than the Great Depression”. These messages are inducing fear in people who are already feeling a great deal of sadness. If we take Dumbledore’s advice, this is dark magic at its best, so we really need to be mindful of our language around COVID-19.
Instead, we need to attempt to shift our language. Let’s shy away from negative predictions about the future and instead talk about what is happening today. Let’s replace emotion provoking words such as ‘overwhelming’ ‘crazy’ and ‘unprecedented’ with more neutral expressions such as ‘change’ ‘concerns’ and ‘impact’. There are a lot of platforms doing damage with words. Let’s do some good with them as well.
Luke is a Psychologist with experience providing individual and group therapy for adults and older adolescents who present with a range of mental health difficulties Luke appreciates idiosyncrasies and strives to tailor interventions to the individual needs of each client to empower them to reach their goals.
Please reach out to one of our psychologist’s if you feel that you need some support during this time.
Written by: Luke Brock, Psychologist, Armchair Psychology