• Corona Virus

  • Thinking through the fear, managing the pandemic  

    As we are facing an unprecedented global crisis we are forced to face uncomfortable realities regarding the limitations of our medical, infrastructure and leadership capacities as well as the result of our dependence on external resources. In the time of war, the enemy is visible, hence it is easier to organize ourselves as a cohesive community against a singular identifiable threat. Often times in such adversity there comes a feeling of togetherness and unity which in our day to day lives we lose touch with. However when dealing with an invisible virus that can be anywhere at any time and wear a face of your loved one, it becomes much harder to contain the panic as the threat becomes all encompassing. It is hard to feel connected when the seemingly benign person standing next to you in a grocery store maybe the source of your ultimate demise. This is an inherently isolating and disorienting condition for an individual’s psyche. Residents of the countries which have strong infrastructure and are economically and politically relatively stable, may actually experience more difficulty adjusting to necessary changes, such as managing day to day life with minimal resources, tapping into family support network and managing financial stress, as these cultures tend to be more individualistic and financially less codependent. Although medical facilities may have a larger resource in these places, community support is not as readily available. Hence as the mass hysteria sets in we see supermarkets drained from supplies and individuals hoarding available resources. The ability to adhere to official recommendations for safety measures is compromised as individuals are accustomed to freedom of choice. Without brute authoritative enforcement it can be much more difficult to enact appropriate measures. Governing bodies, may have a harder time adjusting policies in order to effectively implement necessary safety regulations that may infringe on individual rights of their citizens. This is a time when we must call upon common sense and self reliance. Regions which are accustomed to turmoil, in some ways will demonstrate a greater resilience and discipline to manage the wave of this pandemic. The population of struggling areas is historically conditioned to be more self reliant and resourceful and less dependent on cohesive leadership to guide them. It would be prudent to pay attention to how various regions globally manage this crisis, rather then assuming an isolationist approach, so we can adopt successful tactics such as diligence in social distancing, remaining calm yet sober and conserving and utilizing all available internal resources to self organize. 

    As the anxiety rises in the community it can become infectious. A relatively calm individual can become impacted by an agitated visitor who maybe sharing detailed data that forecasts doom. The anxiety transfers to the listener and now the level of cortisol,  (a stress hormone in the body) becomes alleviated and doubled, now we have two bodies in a sympathetic, that is flight fight state of functioning. The feeling of being out of control is not one that human beings are good at handling in general. After all we have created an entire civilization that hinges upon the illusion of predictability. In order to maintain a parasympathetic, that’s is an optimal level of functioning, our nervous system requires down time. it is important that we limit our exposure to anxiety inducing situations such as crowded grocery stores with empty shelves, or compulsively listening to the news 24/7, consuming social media and anxiety provoking images, over planning for worst case scenarios and forecasting the future. Implementing at least 5-10 minute deep breathing exercises, that take 4 seconds to breath in, and 4 seconds to breath out, can restore our optimal functioning. Of course it is prudent to stay informed but it is also important to schedule breaks. If you find yourself unable to peel away from the tv screen or the internet, please consider switching it off for a few hours. Being out in fresh air is a good idea as long as it’s not in a crowded place, if outdoor activities are limited consider doing some in home exercising, moving your body and elevating your heart rate 10 to 15 minutes at a time produces endorphins which are pleasure chemicals in your brain, it improves your blood flow and heart function and diverts anxious energy hence helping your nervous system to restore. Making a conscious effort to discuss pleasant topics with friends and family will refocus and rest your mind, playing board games, reading, journaling and engaging in creative activities at home and with children can be a wonderful way to entertain one’s self as well as process emotional stress in a healthy manner. Now that work flow is slow for most people, consider working on a project you never had time for before, using your hands and your creative mind is an important therapeutic relief. This is a good time to teach yourself a new skill, such as an instrument, or a language, or a craft. Families with children who are home from school, now get to have a more focused time with their parents who can now actually participate in their children’s learning and inspiration. 

    Most importantly, when you find yourself fretting about the future, or your current situation, ask yourself “in this moment... where is my power?” And focus your energy there. We only have control over this moment, we don’t know what will happen in the future and we cannot change the past, we can be most affective when we clearly recognize where our power lies. The humanity has experienced these things, we may not have a conscious memory of this, but our genealogy and our cells remember what it’s like to survive, when things feel chaotic on the outside, we must go inward, because it is within that we hold the wisdom for what needs to be done. We have always known this, before it ever happened to us individually, human biology holds a genetic memory of its history, we belong to the lineage of survivors. Make time to go inward and get quiet so your actions become informed by your higher self and not your scared self. This is a time for focusing your energy on improving the quality of your overall thought process and cutting down on the unnecessary quantity of things such as  excessive purchasing of toilet paper, canned goods, noisy rotary thoughts and endless tweets. This is an opportunity to distill our thoughts into their pure form and focus on what is absolute, utmost importance. When breathing slowly focus your mind on the area in your body that is holding the most amount of tension and imagine your breath being a source of white light, directing your breath to the very epicenter of your body that holds the tension imagine dispersing it with white light as it expands into your body, upon exhale visualize all the negative energy being flushed out of your system through your breath, focus your mind on the light and love for yourself and others. Visualize healing, strength and growth, images of plants growing and blossoming, the motion of water and other elements can help you reorient your mind.

     

    “We are very, very small, but we are profoundly capable of very, very big things.”

    Stephen Hawking