Two years of a pandemic, two years of a state of emergency – what does that do to us and our relationships? How do we deal with the crisis and what ways and possibilities are there to get through this time as unscathed as possible? Tikbow asked psychologist Nicole Engel these questions. A conversation that gives us hope.
The pandemic as a stress test
"The challenge is not to evaluate the whole thing as an exceptional phenomenon or an exceptional situation for oneself", knows graduate psychologist Nicole Engel. Instead, it is important to accept the current situation as everyday life. An everyday life that has special rules that will accompany us for quite a while. In order to stay mentally healthy, the most important thing is our mindset, i.e. our attitude to issues. Meanwhile, psychological studies have shown that the pandemic is comparable to a huge stress test.
Stress research shows that the most important means of getting through this is resilience,” says the expert. And this is positively influenced above all if one evaluates things positively or at least tries to accept them neutrally. By beating myself up over it and always seeing only the negative, I psych myself out and weaken myself mentally more and more,” says Engel, explaining the negative spiral that the pandemic brings with it in terms of stress.
Nicole Engel is the founder of Psychologicum Berlin, an institute dedicated to mental health. Coaching, individual, couple and sex therapy – Nicole Engel is confronted with the whole range of human needs and has been observing how the pandemic affects us, our lives and our relationships for almost two years now.
What is Corona doing to relationships?
In fact, the pandemic brought people closer together at the beginning – distractions fell flat, people got involved with each other, tried out new things in togetherness: "For sex toy manufacturers, there were sales increases like never before", knows Engel, who herself is an ambassador for sex toys. Today, she sees many relationships in deep crisis – little by little, the exceptional situation has brought subliminally smoldering conflicts to the surface. People are asking themselves existential questions: Am I happy? Where do I want to go? What do I want from life? And the answers would often be very different.
Stress feelings in the pandemic
What Nicole Engel also observes: When it comes to equality, the pandemic has brought about a small step backwards. Even if women are initially relieved by the possibility of working at home and the resulting elimination of commuting, in the end the main burden lies with them due to childcare, homeschooling, household and job. Studies have shown that only seven percent of men would actually do more now. In many families, the man’s salary is still higher, and then it’s often: “You do your job properly and go to the Büro, I’ll take care of the other stuff. In the end, the situation is stressful for everyone, but: "I would say from my personal perspective – and because studies now also show – that women are significantly more stressed because they have to deal with old issues like housework and childcare", says the psychologist.
How do we get out of the negative vortex?
In the end, how do we get out of the whirlpool of stress, negative thoughts, feelings and doubts that the current pandemic situation is giving us? "It’s not about unwinding giant things, but rather about the question: What can I be grateful for?" says Engel. It is important to look for solutions in the new situation: What really does me good? This could simply be a walk, a day in nature or a round of sports. At the same time, one should also give space to bad moods and seek exchange with others – after all, no one is alone with these feelings.
At the end of the discussion, the expert quotes the unforgettable Loriot: "In times of crisis, intelligent people look for solutions, idiots look for culprits."