The relatively quick worldwide spread of a new virus is can be very concerning, and rightly so, not just in terms of physical health, but also because of the stress and disruption it brings to everyday life. There is growing anxiety about the current health crisis among adults and children. When schools close and events are canceled, when we see throngs of people on television wearing masks in public, and when we’re bombarded daily with statistics about the spread of disease, it’s difficult not to worry. But Talkspace has plenty of advice on how to handle these pressures.
It would be abnormal not to feel some fear for yourself and your loved ones, concern for your community, and uncertainty over the duration and the disruption. But fear and facts are often at odds in our world. Rumors, misinformation, and outright falsehoods sometimes spread as fast as the virus, with equally damaging results. We should all try to find a balanced and reasonable response.
That is not to say that the threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic should be taken lightly. But these are not the Middle Ages. As Americans, and as citizens of the world, we have the ability, and the duty, to arm ourselves with information and the “weapons” to not only minimize our anxieties but to combat the spread of illness. Knowledge, medicines, behavioral modifications, and communication channels are available to us today that were unknown during pandemics of the past. Knowledge is power.
The medical community knows a great deal more today than was known even 10 years ago about how a disease is spread. And each of us has access to that valuable information.
What We Must Accept
Feeling powerless in any situation is difficult. There are, however, certain things we must accept.
- The first is that, in today’s complicated world, human beings are interconnected. More so than ever before, small changes in one community, one nation, or on one continent have an effect that can send ripples rapidly across the world.
- The second is that we have very little control over the “big picture.” Specifically, in terms of a worldwide viral illness, unless you hold the reins of decision-making power in government or are a medical professional working to find a treatment or develop a preventive vaccine, what happens is totally beyond the realm of any individual.
- Third, just because you aren’t in control does not mean there is nothing you can do. Each of us has total control of our reactions. Remember that the choices you make have an impact — on your thoughts, within your own families, on your friends, and in your communities.
That’s the bigger picture of living in a digital-connected age. Because we know, almost instantly, what occurs half a world away, each of us bears some responsibility for how long this current crisis will last, how severe the COVID-19 pandemic becomes, and how an altered world moves forward into the future. Isolation is no longer an option, not for a country, and not really for any individual.
What We Can Do
Each one of us has an opportunity to alter the course of history. Consider the facts:
We know that the virus is highly transmittable, but there is less knowledge about the details. We must listen to the experts, weigh the recommendations for self-quarantine or isolation, modify our habits, practice better hygiene, make adjustments to our daily routines, and monitor our health and wellness. View emerging statistics realistically, and do not give in to panic.
Some of the decisions have been made for us: school and business closings, limitations on crowds, travel restrictions, recommendations for “social distancing.”
Although we must hand the controls over to others, we must individually be willing to listen to the experts, weigh the advice, and make necessary adjustments to our business and personal lives. We must accept that what we do has an impact, ultimately, on the health of the world.
This is not the end of the world, and giving in to fear gains us nothing. Instead, learning the facts and taking positive steps to protect ourselves and our families is empowering.
What You Need to Know
Resources exist. Network news programs and social media are not the recommended sources of factual information. Better options are readily available. Arm yourself with facts. Don’t fall victim to “what if” games. Seek additional information from reliable sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), your physician, pharmacist or local hospital. If you feel ill, contact your primary care physician, or call a pharmacist or clinic. If you’re feeling depressed or angry, talk about your feelings with a trusted mental health specialist or spiritual adviser. If you’re overwhelmed, consider the benefit of immediate online therapy from Talkspace.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an excellent website that details what you need to know about COVID-19, including how it is spread and best practices for protecting yourself and others. It details proper ways to clean and disinfect items that you touch and use daily. It will be updated regularly to include information from all across the United States.
Talkspace On How to Stay Connected & Upbeat
With the lifestyle changes that have already been mandated in certain areas, and with the numbers of “presumptive positive” cases growing daily, you might think there is nothing to be upbeat about. But it is worth noting that all medical experts agree that “most people” who contract the viral infection will recover. If you’re sick, stay home. If you have no symptoms, follow recommended cautions.
Experts advise everyone to:
- Know your risks
- Understand your circumstances
- Get the facts
As was noted during the Corona Virus Task Force press conference on Saturday, March 14, “This epidemic will be stopped at the community level.” Remember that the goal of current efforts is to protect the most vulnerable, and “We all have a role to play.”
Use this altered time to learn a new skill, to reconnect via skype or telephone with long-distance friends and family, to play board games with your children, start an exercise routine, read a book or binge-watch a favorite television series. Get out into the sunshine to enjoy nature or plant a garden — sunshine is good for you, especially if you’re alone or not feeling well!
Rather than giving in to feelings of despair, turn your thoughts to positive action and take personal responsibility to keep from spreading the virus.