Coronavirus: Why has all the toilet paper disappeared?


girl in pink top holding toiiet rolls


Here in the UK, we are getting more affected as death toll increases.

As stated in the media, for some people the illness is not too severe; however for others it can be life-threatening and fatal.

We find ourselves challenged, not sure what to do and how to respond, we have a psychological situation to deal with in addition to the virus itself and the impact on the economy. It’s the ‘not knowing’, the lack of understanding and knowledge of how we individually will suffer from the virus that is causing the fear, unease and panic.

We see only today on British TV media, a health care worker tearily asking the public not to panic buy. To buy only what we need, in order that health care workers, the elderly and vulnerable people can buy the food and products that they need to stay fit and healthy during this crisis time. We are decent people; we know this with the many acts of kindness that are happening in communities around the land. So why is it that we are not being calm and in control of what we are buying?

Marisa Peer, founder of Rapid Transformational Therapy Speaking from a pyschological point of  view stated:

  • Coronovirus (COVID-19) is causing chaos, rising anxiety  and fear


    Why are people panic buying toilet paper of all things? Shelves of toilet paper have been stripped bare and some stores are resorting to rationing what little stock they have left as people fight for loo roll! As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, so does anxiety and panic. People are stocking up on supplies, worried about isolation measures.

    However, this leads to panic buying, why fight over toilet paper? This panic response to strip the shelves bare of toilet roll provides a fascinating insight into human behavior.  Panic buying is when we buy a lot more products than we need at that point in time, purchased as we expect a disaster or shortage. Panic buying creates more panic buying. It can become a collective action which can have an economic impact as we are currently experiencing.”

    This kind of behaviour leads to actual shortages regardless of the media telling us, no need to panic.

The BBC have reported: Shoppers should be sensible when buying food and groceries, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and supermarkets have said” 

toilet roll on ceramic plate

Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and author of “The Psychology of Pandemics, explains to CNN

“On the one hand, [the response is] understandable, but on the other hand it’s excessive.

  • The novel coronavirus COVid-19, scares people because it’s new, and there’s a lot about it that’s still unknown. When people hear conflicting messages about the risk it poses and how seriously they should prepare for it, they tend to resort to the extreme, Taylor said.

“We can prepare without panicking….

When people are told something dangerous is coming, but all you need to do is wash your hands, the action doesn’t seem proportionate to the threat,” he said.

“Special danger needs special precautions.”

  • During this time, whilst we are forced to live in such sudden uncertainty some of us are forced to live in isolation, this drives a need to ‘buy more’ to give us a feeling of  safety, even if we don’t need the items at that point in time.”

gir with mask covid19

As written by Melissa Norberg Associate Professor in Psychology, Macquarie University and Derek RuckerProfessor of Marketing, Northwestern University in The Converstation

  • “One of the strongest predictors of hoarding behaviour is an individual’s perceived inability to tolerate distress. If it’s in a person’s general nature to avoid distress, they may be at risk of buying more products than they can feasibly use during the pandemic.
    For such people, it may be difficult to believe authorities when they announce supermarkets will not close. Or, if they do believe them, they may decide it’s best to “prep”, just in case things change.

    The coronavirus also reminds many people of their own mortality, and this can lead to an increase in spending to offset fear.

    Even if a person typically feels able to handle distress, they may still end up buying more than they need. Seeing empty shelves can trigger an urge to snatch what is left.

So how can we make rational decisions, at this time?

While no perfect remedy exists, Melissa Norberg and Derek Rucker recommend

  • “When shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, start by taking stock of the items you already have at home, and how long they will last.
  • When stocking up, it’s important to limit waste and be considerate. It’s not helpful to buy food that will spoil, or buy so many products that others, including the elderly and vunerable, will experience hardship.

It’s ok to feel concerned.

  • When shopping, take a list with you to guide your purchases, and try your best to stick to it.

  • This way, you’ll be less likely to succumb to anxiety-driven purchases triggered by the sight of empty shelves, or thoughts of the supermarkets closing.

  • You may start to feel anxious when only buying items for use in the immediate future.

  • That’s OK. Numerous research trialshave shown people can tolerate anxiety, and that changing unhelpful behaviour reduces anxiety in the long run.

When we understand exactly why we feel the need to buy more than we need, this may help us to make more rationale and thoughtful purchases when shopping.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informs us that:

Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others.

Their advice is as follows:

Wash your hands frequently

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Why? When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu, and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.”

Stress can cause more harm

As Marisa Peer states the stress of this situation could potentially cause more problems. As this article on 10 top tips for stress management explains

“When we perceive a situation as demanding, dangerous or threatening, we can feel stressed and anxious. This can be accompanied by physical reactions in our body, such as increased heart rate, sweaty palms/skin, rapid shallow breathing, or even shaking with nerves.

This is because every thought we have creates a biochemical reaction in our bodies. Stress is not just in your head, it’s in your body. When we feel apprehensive our bodies respond with the stress response, which releases cortisol, adrenaline and stress hormones into our body, activating our sympathetic nervous system…. 

When we encounter any kind of stress or threat to our general wellbeing, our body activates the stress response. However, if we are not acting on this biochemical response and using it to burn off the stress hormones, then it can cause disease.”


image - be kind and considerate

To conclude: 


  • If we work together towards uplifting our spirits. This is something we can do to help the situation, rather than if we focus on what cannot be done and what cannot be changed.
  • The most important thing that we can do is to be aware of our own thinking and the affect that it has on ourselves and on others, this is key to our mental well being, we then empower ourselves to relax, keep calm, and manage our stress levels.
  • If we take the advice from the World Health Organisation and the top scientists in the world, if we ask the right questions so that we are informed and if we acknowledge how we feel.
  • If we look for the good in ourselves, and our situation when possible, wherever find ourselves. If we do everything we can to prevent the worst from happening, we will come through this, we will move on.


If we do this we will put ourselves in control of our feelings of panic, we will slow down our thinking and we will get through this.

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