The news shook the world with the outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID19) in early January. Since then, our social media has not stopped bombarding with posts, memes, conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus. Honestly, I have not yet scrolled through my Instagram without seeing at least one meme about it. Initially, it seems like a distant nightmare that is a little too daunting to be real. But now, we find ourselves living in that very nightmare, as we wake up every day to the news of the virus dispersing more and more thoroughly across the countries: proliferating infected cases and the alarming death toll from all around the world. As you are reading this now, you are probably staying home, practicing social distancing, or self-quarantine or situated in a lock-down of your country. Whichever the situation you are in, you may be consumed with racing thoughts and persistent apprehension over this unsettling global pandemic. Well, I am. Although I am not a professional, I hope this article helps you even just a little to cope with the anxiety and strive through this staggering time.
Too much news may become toxic, which, in turn, prompts us to overthink and generate excessive anxiety. While it is essential to keep ourselves updated, we can get too carried away with everything said on the news and can become more exposed to fake news and unsourced information circulating on the Internet. They stir up unnecessary panic among many people, urging them to think and act irrationally – panic buying. Overall, the negative news secures in our mind longer than the positive ones – the media is responsible for that because it tends to project more adversity. It is instinctive for us to pay more attention to the snowballing cases of contagion in different countries. Nevertheless, we should diverge more of our focus on the escalating number of recoveries as well, learning more stories of how many patients battle the virus and recuperate from it. In this way, we can feed on more positivity and optimism throughout the epidemic; I believe that hope will help us get through it.
As you have received enough precautions about your physical health and personal hygiene by now, I am not going to repeat here to wash your hands and stay at home. However, I would like to encourage you to take care of your mental health because it is just as crucial. Anxiety can deceive us into thinking that we are experiencing the symptoms of the coronavirus and place ourselves in psychological distress. It is a menacing cycle of panic – worrying about the risk of coronavirus causes our body to produce what feels like symptoms and then leads to more anxiety and more symptoms. Often, our minds cannot distinguish between real and perceived danger. Thus, when we feel threatened and anxious, adrenaline rushes in our body, increasing our anxiety and sometimes, causing chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and hot flashes. These symptoms will ease once we feel more relaxed. According to my personal experience, doing exercise or immersing ourselves in leisure activities – reading, listening to music, watching our favorite movies and tv shows – can put us back in a calmer mood and diminish our anxiety.
As I have mentioned earlier, I am sure that a majority of us are carrying out self-isolation or self-quarantine at the moment. We can view this as an opportunity for self-care, picking up new hobbies, reading more books, learning new skills, etc. At the same time, we should be more encouraging and supportive of our family and friends. Since we cannot hang out with our friends physically, we can still reach out to them virtually and check up on them always. Social media should be the medium to spread more positivity during this critical time; hurling racism and shifting the blame on specific people will not help us pass through the epidemic at all.
As we all know, the elderly and vulnerable people are more susceptible to this virus. Therefore, it is vital to keep our distance from these people, especially if we have recently traveled elsewhere. However, social distancing does not indicate that we should completely isolate ourselves from them. I vastly encourage everyone to check up on your grandparents more frequently (if they are still around) even if we cannot show them physical affections. They may be just as anxious and concerned about this situation as us. While we are facilitated with our phones, laptops, and the Internet to entertain ourselves during this stay-home period, they are not capable of doing that like us. Most of the time, they want to talk to us – hear about our days, share their stories, and enjoy our company.
While I am writing this, I am currently locked out of my country (Long story short: I happen to be in another country for an urgent reason when my home country shuts down air travel and entry). My 90-year-old grandmother – my favorite person in the world – is far more worried about my well-being and the risk of me contracting the virus than her well-being and health. And now, I regret not being there for her. Even when I go back, I need to distance myself from her since we live together. So, stay home for your grandparents, take care, and spend more time with them if you live together with them. If you do not, call them up regularly and keep them company through the telephone. All they want is your company. Otherwise, you will regret not doing so later.
With all the love and support from our family and friends, we will stay united (metaphorically speaking; remember, social distancing?) and pass over the Corona season. Since we are surrounded by vagueness and apprehension every day wondering when we will be back to our normal lives, we have to learn to live in the uncertainties. We have to create little moments inside those maybes and grow there.