Oh! The Coronavirus
You, along with millions of others, are probably on alert due to the potential danger of the Coronavirus and political unrest.
Sport, theatre and charitable events have been put on HOLD or cancelled. Churches, schools and even courts with juries have put a ban on their gatherings. Others negatively affected are small business owners, manufacturers, who cannot access needed materials, and all the medical professionals who are scrambling to protect and serve. These measures affect, especially, those who provide services to those venues while earning minimum wages. People’s incomes are being affected. Many are seeing their investments dramatically sink. Government are being challenged. Democracy is being challenged. So we can truly say, we are living in scary times!
However, hysteria merely creates another problem. Feelings of panic put our nervous system on high alert, compromise our immune system, and dampen our brain’s prefrontal cortex–inhibiting their ability to make rational, informed and helpful decisions.
Alternatively, we can be proactive in taking protective measures and demonstrate mental and emotional resilience. If you have a medical condition or are physically frail, as some seniors are, you may need to take extra precautions. In the end, we want to contribute to the solutions, not the problems, of the situation. We want to minimize our reactivity and be more mindful. Correct?
First, let us minimize our fears with reason and embrace the facts. They are changing every day. Check in daily with a reliable source such as your minister of health, health region, The World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Choose wisely the information you read and hear online, on the radio and TV. Don’t over-indulge and put yourself at risk for overwhelm.
A Resiliency-based Response
What is a resiliency-based response? Well, it’s not hysterical fear and hoarding 10 years worth of toilet paper. It’s not leaving the news on 24/7 so your brain can absorb scary details. It’s not instilling fear in the children when they touch their faces. It’s not blaming others for coughing or blowing their noses.
Resilience is based on our capacity to remain steady, or rebound, in the face of challenge. All global citizens are being called upon to stay emotionally steady while making sensible, appropriate and community minded decisions. Here are some ideas to help.
Resiliency-based Ideas to Face the Coronavirus
ONE: Take Care of Your Body
The World Health Organization advises:
- Regularly wash your hands with soap frequently for at least 20 seconds.
- After contact with others or objects in public places, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
- Cover your cough with a tissue or your arm.
- Avoid large crowds and keep 1 to 2 meters away from anyone coughing or sneezing.
- If feeling unwell, stay home.
- If you have a fever or cough, or other symptoms, get medical care. Call first.
- Stay informed.
Stay as well as possible. Get adequate sleep, eat nutritious food and exercise.
TWO: Edit Your Thoughts and Talk
- Monitor your TV viewing and media news. Stay informed, not overwhelmed.
- Choose to access facts from reliable sources such at the World Health Organization. Ignorance breeds emotional mania. Facts will help you better react to others’ irrational fears and the exaggeration of some popular media.
- Know that uncertainty is part of our daily living. Fear of the future is an option. If you find yourself asking yourself improbable but possible questions such as, “What the coronavirus is not contained?”, answer yourself with “I don’t know.” Then focus on the present moment, noticing that all is well.
- Minimize your stressful self-chatter by telling yourself:
- “I can only do my best and let go the rest.”
- “This is a good reminder to let the people I love know it.”
- “I can calm myself with a deep breath!”
THREE: Be a Force for Calm
- Notice if you need to emotionally regulate your feelings of fear and take several deep breaths.
- Calm your nerves by listening to music, walking, exercising and doing a creative project.
- Attend to your social needs. Hug and snuggle with your loved ones and pets at home. Contact other loved ones by phone.
- Have compassion for those who have allowed themselves to feel anxious. Uncertainty and lack of control easily trigger anxiety and depression. Just listen and avoid adding to their panic.
- Show empathy to those who are not well. Ask if there is anything you can do for them, while avoiding putting yourself at risk. Make no judgemental comments.
- Show social compassion. Do an act of kindness for someone who is a vulnerable situation. Shovel their walk, do an errand or take them food.
- Practice self-compassion. As Kristin Neff recommends, say to yourself, “Be kind to myself. Appreciate myself. Take care of myself.”
FOUR: Be Grateful
- Appreciate your body parts including your eyes, ears, skin, lungs, and heart.
- Notice the warmth of your home, your loved ones, and your breath.
- Express appreciation to people who are providing service, medical care and leadership.
FIVE: Consider an Optimistic Perspective
Disruption has happened! A shaking up of the status quo, questions, disagreements, and re-evaluating of our values has happened. From apartments, to homes, to communities and government, cleaning house is happening!
Bless us all as we demonstrate our resiliency capacity to deal with the facts of the coronavirus.