NiceDay blog: Fear of the Covid test

The amount of Covid cases in the Netherlands remains high. This means that we will have to continue to live our lives according to this ‘new normal’ for the time being. We work from home (when possible), stay at home when we have got a cold and get tested for Covid. But what if you fear the Covid test? What if you really have Covid? Do you fear the corona test? Then these tips might help you.

The corona measures

The guidelines given by the government are clear; you have to stay at home when you have a cold. This way you can be sure that you do not unexpectedly infect other people and ensure that we do not overburden our healthcare system. In this way we, as a society, can enjoy our freedoms again as soon as possible.

Easier said than done

But, now that Autumn has started, you will probably notice that it is a lot more difficult to adhere to the guidelines. Groceries have to be done, children have to be taken to school or you have to be at the office for an important meeting that cannot be done digitally. A (light) cold suddenly messes up your entire planning. Unfortunately, a cold can last for a week and a half and with a bit of bad luck you will have the next cold again by then.

The Covid test

The solution out there is that anyone with a cold can be tested for Covid by means of a PCR test. This way you will know within a few days whether or not you are a carrier of the virus and. If or when you are tested negative, you can simply leave your home again. The Covid test is a good option for many people. Staying home for a few days is practically manageable, so you can go outside again afterwards to do your shopping, walk the dog or take your children to school.

Fear of the Covid test

Unfortunately, not everyone dares to take a test. For some people, the idea of ​​a cotton swab going deep into your nose or throat is very frightening. If this is the case, it can cause you a lot of stress once you catch a cold. Either you have to stay indoors for a week and a half, with all the challenges that come with it, or you have to undergo a test that you fear. This is like choosing between two evils and is likely to cause all kinds of other negative emotions. You may get angry at the virus, the government or yourself because you feel this fear. You may also experience grief because you feel alone and powerless, and you feel that it is not in your power to solve this problem.

What can you do?

Talk about it

The most important thing you can do is talk to other people; admit to yourself and others around you that you’re afraid of the Covid test. This is not strange at all! It’s something you’ve never experienced before and let’s face it, no one is excited about a cotton swab in their nose / throat.

By talking about your fears, you allow the people around you to support you. Support is very important in dealing with negative emotions. Talking about it also gives you a clearer picture of what exactly you are afraid of. Someone might fear the outcome of the test, the other could fear possible pain or fear of having to throw up. Someone else may find the loss of control scary and for others it may feel like defeat to undergo a test, because testing means really facing the threat of Covid to our society. If you know what it is that you fear, you can talk with others around you to consider whether it is a realistic fear or whether it may be an unrealistic fear. Whether it is one or the other; your anxiety may not diminish immediately, but knowing that it is unrealistic it might help you to tolerate it.

Write it down

It can help to write down everything you fear. This doesn’t have to be a coherent story. You just write down thoughts that pop up in your head. By putting your fears on paper, you create a little bit more distance from them. It also helps you to be more realistic about the situation; is this fear really necessary or do you also have some unrealistic fears that you already know are wrong? Learn more about why writing is good for you in this article.

Prepare yourself

Read about the test on reliable websites. Do not search for websites that are not officially recognized to provide information on this subject. The uncertainty around Covid-19 scares many people, and the internet is full of personal opinions and ideas that arise from this fear. However, that doesn’t make the information true. Always look closely at the source of the information you are reading.

Ask for other people’s experiences

Ask people around you how they experienced the test. You will probably hear many different experiences. One thought it was nothing and the other thought it was very annoying. Do you realize that, even if people found the test very annoying, they can tell you what they thought of it; they survived the test! If they hated it, ask them about the benefits it has brought them. People tend to share mostly negative things and leave out positive experiences. You need all the information to be able to make a proper assessment for yourself.

Being scared is not the same as being in danger

Realize that feeling scared is not the same as being in danger. Sometimes you feel anxious in situations where there is no actual danger. For example for a visit to the dentist or when you have to give a presentation. Just think back to times when you have felt like that before; the fear always subsides. The Covid test takes about a minute. It isn’t very nice to feel very anxious during that minute, but realize that this is what it is; it is unpleasant. You are not actually in danger and it only takes a moment. Your anxiety will subside automatically. You can handle that!

Make the right decision for yourself

Try to make the right decision for yourself. You can write down the advantages and disadvantages of taking a Covid test, and also for not taking the test. By taking a Covid test you will have to face your fear for a moment. After you get the results, you will be able to go outside without having to worry! If you don’t take the test, you won’t have that brief moment of severe anxiety, but you will have to stay indoors for a long time, which also causes a lot of hassle. There is no right or wrong; choose what suits you. However, it is helpful to make a conscious choice and to not avoid thinking about it. Avoiding will only prevent you from executing both plans (testing or not testing staying home). By making a conscious decision, you can also think about how you are going to implement your plan and what you need. This way you can continue to take good care of yourself in a difficult situation.

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Renée Lepoutre

I'm Renée Lepoutre and I work as a psychologist. A personal approach, transparency and focus are important to me in my work. I specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy.

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