Attachment and Coronavirus

How will my attachment style affect me during the Coronavirus pandemic

John Bowlby, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was the pioneer of ‘attachment theory‘.

He identified four main types of attachment:

  • Secure
  • Anxious avoidant
  • Anxious ambivalent
  • Disorganised

Our attachment style is developed in early childhood in response to our environment and it goes on to influence many of our relationships throughout life.

How will my attachment style affect me during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Those of us who are securely attached might be experiencing higher levels of anxiety than normal and have a general sense of being unsettled. The world around us has changed rapidly and we are faced with so many unknowns. We will be seeking some comfort from those we are close to but are generally able to stick to our routines and feel confident that any feelings of anxiety or depression are circumstantial rather than chronic.

Those of us who are avoidantly attached are well equipped for a crisis that limits our contact with others. Relationships are often tricky and we can feel exhausted and uncomfortable being around others. We are often more comfortable in our own domain and don’t usually feel lonely. The idea of having limited contact with others for weeks or months might actually feel like a relief. However, we may still feel anxious about the virus and would benefit from having some daily contact with others via video or phone so that we don’t become too isolated.

The anxiously attached among us may well struggle in this crisis, particularly if we live alone. We thrive on contact with others and are often tactile. Given the choice of being alone or surrounded by people we will always choose the latter. The prospect of not seeing our loved ones for weeks on end can cause high levels of anxiety, fear, loneliness and depression.

Now is the time to really practise self-soothing. Be gentle with yourself and try to talk to yourself in a calm and soothing voice – think David Attenborough or Joanna Lumley! This crisis will pass and our friends and family are only a phone or video call away. Make the most of the time outside to exercise and get the endorphins flowing. If you have a pet, give them lots of cuddles. If not, grab that old teddy and give it a squeeze …

If your attachment is disorganised you may well vacillate between all of the above. It can be hard enough to regulate emotions at the best of times but in the thick of a global pandemic it can be really tough going. Try to stick to a consistent routine every day so that you know what to expect and your emotions are not thrown about by being over- or under-stimulated. Try to make contact with a trusted friend who understands what you are going through and remember: this will pass.

Category: Coronavirus

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