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Blowing Off Steam to Prevent Burnout

Tatyana Chernigovskaya on the impact of the pandemic
09.21.2020
Blowing Off Steam to Prevent Burnout

Scientists and analysts from different fields believe that pandemic is a global phenomenon that leaves its trace on the whole world. Everything that is happening on the planet now inevitably has an impact on people and all spheres of life and activities of the society. Tatyana Chernigovskaya, permanent expert of the Global Women Media, PhD in Biology and PhD in Philology, famous Soviet and Russian scientist in the field of neuroscience and psycholinguistics, shared her opinion on this matter.

Черниговская_T.jpg Tatyana Chernigovskaya
Honorary Scientist of Russia, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Education, PhD in Biology, PhD in Philology, professor of the Department of General Linguistics, Head of the Department of the Problems of Convergence in Natural Sciences and Humanities, Head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Studies at St. Petersburg State University

All people behaved differently during the pandemic. Some people yielded to panic and anxiety, others were sceptical, and still others saw an occasion to reconsider their life guidelines in the current situation. According to Tatyana Chernigovskaya, the main problem that society underestimates the situation today when the pandemic has seemingly passed its peak. 

Many believe that life will get back to normal with the coming of autumn: children will go to schools and kindergartens and the prolonged period of self-isolation and remote work will stop. However, the expert emphasizes that the pandemic has had a serious impact on all spheres of society and it is too early to talk about returning to the familiar rhythm of life. On the contrary, today, it is especially important to learn to make forecasts for tomorrow more responsibly.

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Probabilistic Forecasting 

According to Tatyana Chernigovskaya, the so-called ‘probabilistic forecasting’ is one of the main skills of the human brain. That skill is the basis for the existence of all life on the planet. 

When an animal burns itself, its brain tells it to bypass the fire the next time. In other words, we can call this behaviour the ability to predict. This ability manifests itself even more in people. 

The frontal lobes of the brain are responsible for these predictions. For example, thanks to their active work, a person understands that he or she will be imprisoned for a crime, fired for failure to perform professional duties, and knows that wrong behaviour can cause a quarrel with relatives. However, if people find themselves in a situation of uncertainty, when it is extremely difficult for their brain to predict the consequences of what is happening, a big problem arises. There is a risk that at such a moment the ability to assess reality consciously will be simply ‘turned off’. 

Tatyana Chernigovskaya believes that a person inclined to reflection, able to take a critical look at himself or herself and take action, can cope with that situation. However, people who are not used to analyse their thinking have completely different processes in their minds: uncontrolled accumulation of stress and anxiety. 

“Do you remember pressure cookers? They were closed with a lid and excessive steam came out through a small hole during cooking. The pot could explode if the hole was closed. This is a metaphor for a person’s inner world”, explains Tatyana Chernigovskaya. 

Stress accumulates inside a person who is unable to analyse his or her own thinking. At some moment, all the irritation comes out. That results in groundless quarrels and dislike for everything that happens around you. 

Today, many people mistakenly believe that they will ‘follow the usual path’ again when coming back to city life. However, Tatyana Chernigovskaya believes, that idea can be misleading. In order not to become hostages of the situation, you need to learn to constantly analyse and think a lot.

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Living on the Net

During the pandemic, almost all life moved to virtual space. Even people having poor computer skills had to improve their level of digital literacy. According to Tatyana Chernigovskaya, she noticed that many of her friends were very inspired by such changes while communicating with colleagues online. They have found themselves in a completely different world where everything happens at an incredible speed. An entire civilization has been rebuilt. 

The world has already become something completely new. During the pandemic, the attitude towards online space has changed radically. The sphere of education is one of the brightest examples of transformation. It was massively adapted to the digital environment in a short time. 

Many specialists had to adapt to the new conditions of working in the digital space. For some of them, it became an opportunity for additional development, for others, it was a big obstacle. According to Ms. Chernigovskaya, some people didn’t manage to get adjusted to the digital environment fully. That was not because of lack of knowledge. On the contrary, it was most difficult for experts with huge practical and scientific experience. 

There is an important question that is particularly relevant today. Will people retain their human qualities if all communication takes place on the net? 

In addition, the expert believes that the professional environment will change radically after the self-isolation and mass transition to digital space. A large number of specialities will disappear or undergo serious changes. In order to stay afloat, specialists from different fields will have to make a huge leap forward: learn to think creatively and implement technological solutions in their work effectively.

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Other Side Of The Screen

Switching to an online mode is only one side of reality. The second important point is that many people moved from city to village during the period of self-isolation. They started to breathe more fresh air and admire nature. It is possible that people will begin to move from apartments to private country houses after past events. Many people will probably prefer lining in villages. Tatyana Chernigovskaya supposes that this is an advantage rather than a problem. 

“It may seem strange but the pandemic brings us back to our roots. And this is its positive effect. In general, it is a smart virus. It contributed to a kind of purification: for example, there were fewer cars and planes during the self-isolation period, which means that the air became fresher. The minds of many people have become clearer as well”, she comments.

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Reload

The pandemic is still a real danger that negatively affects a person’s psycho-emotional state. Everybody is in the conditions of obscurity, even those people who occupy senior positions and are responsible for decision-making at the level of cities or entire countries. The world has found itself in a situation where no one can say exactly what the right choice is. 

“This is the first time when people of the world have faced such a situation. The current changes affect not only separate states but the entire planet as well. What is happening now, both biologically and socially, brings challenges to civilization as a whole. There is no need to panic, we need to understand that global changes are awaiting us.” 

To reduce the stress load, Tatyana Chernigovskaya suggests selecting the information that we consume more carefully. Modern information space is filled with a variety of positive and negative content of poor and good quality. All that affects human consciousness. According to the expert, it is important to control the flow of information entering the zone of human perception today. However, there are moments when a total reload is necessary. One should arrange an information detox, put aside books, turn off gadgets, and relocate to nature. Such a rest is sometimes very useful for the brain. 

Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov


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