The Coronavirus Outbreak: How To Stay Calm As It Spreads
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the Coronavirus disease a pandemic.
The death toll globally has surpassed 18,000 people, stock markets have plunged, communities have canceled events and gatherings, thousands of businesses have asked their employees to work from home, millions of travelers have postponed or canceled their trips, and face masks and hand sanitizers have disappeared from store shelves.
The fear is palpable.
While it’s important to stay on top of the news, to keep churning over the same fear-based news stories can’t be good for you. What can you do to stay calm as the virus spreads?
I believe that if I allow myself to be weakened by negative thoughts, stress, fear, a bad diet, and poor lifestyle habits, I will make myself more susceptible to not only the Coronavirus but any disease. My best defense is prevention and focusing on what I can do to stay healthy in my body and mind, rather than getting sucked into fear.
I’d like to tell you a story about the green spruce tree in my front yard. A few years ago, it was infected by a bug. Whole branches were dying, and the needles were browning and falling off. I asked an arborist to come and see what he could do. He told me the tree was dying but because of a ban on pesticides in Toronto where I live, he wasn’t allowed to spray the tree. I was disappointed to hear that because the tree was nearly twenty years old and two stories high. It would be a shame to not do anything about it. Just then, Dan turned toward me and said, “If you don’t mind spending some money on pruning the dead branches and fertilizing the tree consistently for the next two years, there is a chance that it can recover on its own.”
“A healthy tree is the best defense against pests,” said Dan.
I chose to strengthen the tree’s own defenses through pruning and fertilizing and sure enough, in two years, the tree was totally green. It took another year or two before it fully regained its former health, but the good news is that the tree is still standing and healthy. The point is that if you strengthen yourself in your body and importantly in your mind, you stand a good chance of warding off any bugs or negativity.
Focus on the good news
There seems to be a great fear about contracting the virus. But getting the virus may not be the worst thing that can happen to you. Recently, I heard a speech by Mr. Gan Kim Yong, the Minister for Health of Singapore. Singapore has been recognized by the World Health Organisation as a model for effective detection and containment of the virus. Mr. Gan mentioned that although the virus seems to be more transmissible, it is less deadly than the virus that caused SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002 to 2004.
The World Health Organisation explains that of those that do get the disease, 80% will have only mild or no symptoms and recover. About 15% may get a severe infection, and about 5% will need hospitalization of which a small percentage may actually die. The percentage of deaths depends on the location and age of the people, any prevailing underlying conditions and other factors.
What’s vital to remember is that not everyone who is exposed to the virus will get sick with the disease. Most people are able to ward off the virus naturally. Getting diagnosed with COVID-19 is not a death sentence. Although the elderly, health personnel in the front lines of care, and those with compromised immune systems are at high risk, even they stand a chance of recovering from the disease given the right and timely treatment.
Let’s focus on the good.
Worry never makes sense. I once heard a spiritual teacher explain why. He said, “Why worry? If it’s a situation that you can do something about, then go ahead and take the steps necessary to handle it. Why worry about it?”
“On the other hand, if it’s something you can’t do anything about, why worry? It’s going to happen anyway whether you worry about it or not.”
Reverend J.P. Vaswani, a spiritual master once said that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. All the rocking that you do will get you nowhere. If you look back at your life, you will find that most of your fears never materialized. Self-help author and teacher Dr. Wayne Dyer said that the word, “FEAR” is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Understand that while we do need to take the necessary precautions as recommended by health authorities, there is no need to panic. Worry, stress and fear work against you. These kinds of thoughts reduce your ability to think clearly, reduce your productivity and most importantly, your immunity—the very thing you want to boost.
Substitute with positive thoughts
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient yogic text on the science of the mind and its control has a remedy for negative thinking: When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of. That is to say, if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, substitute them with positive thoughts. Sounds like a simple remedy but it actually works.
Instead of thinking, What if I get sick with the virus? What if I’m quarantined and can’t go out?
What if I get sent to the hospital? What if I die? Affirm, I am enjoying vibrant health. I am safe and sound. All is going well in my life. Thinking positive thoughts weakens the old tendencies and creates new channels of thought. To read more supportive positive habits, read my article, How to eliminate negative thoughts. Another powerful technique is prayer. Prayer can transform your body, mind, and life. Read: The miraculous healing mantra.
Keep a healthy and positive mind
COVID-19 is a new disease that is causing great alarm all over the world. But along with the spread of the disease, there is an urgent need to contain the contagion of fear.
It doesn’t help deplete your energy in listening to news that incites fear and panic. It’s far more beneficial to focus on staying healthy in your body and more importantly, your mind. Even a healthy body can succumb to ill health if the mind is stressed and holds negative thoughts. In other words, you can literally make yourself sick by the thoughts you hold. So, the key is to strengthen yourself. Make sure that you follow the protocols recommended by health authorities. And, when you choose to hold a positive outlook, focus on the good news, stop worrying, and try your best to substitute negative thoughts and habits with positive ones, you will have a far greater chance of staying calm and healthy in the midst of this trying time.
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