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Focusing on the Positive during the Pandemic

By Dr. Eva Bell

The Covid 19 pandemic that is racing across the world mercilessly slaughtering mankind, has settled like a pervasive cloud of doom on human beings. TV, newspapers and social media relentlessly feature distressing news and pictures of death and devastation. Articles describing the deadly effects of this invisible virus appear daily in the print media. While some are from medical doctors and scientists, there are numerous quacks pedalling false information and prescribing medicines – indigenous, herbal, home remedies – insisting that these are curative. Social media is rife with suggestions that controvert basic truths and WhatsApp messages bombard recipients with unscientific nonsense.

Is it any wonder then that people confined to their homes with restriction of free movement, suffer from stress, anxiety, depression and sometimes become suicidal. Depression is even affecting small children. A mother said that her young son goes around sniffing things to check if he has lost his sense of smell due to Covid. Children are afraid of losing their parents to the disease and worry about who would care for them under such circumstances.

Domestic violence has increased. In some cases, couples give their spouses the silent treatment and remain incommunicado, which can be very frustrating. Alcohol seems a good remedy to drown their sorrows, and alcoholics are on the increase.

 As many have lost their jobs and income, some resort to ingenious methods of theft and cheating. Cybercrimes have escalated and many gullible souls have lost their life’s savings.

 In such a situation people become worried and stressed out. Paranoia has set in to the extent that some people cloister themselves indoors, bolting windows and doors, as some medical articles say the virus is airborne. Even strong people with positive personalities become surprisingly negative. Insomnia, headaches, nightmares, stomach ailments and irritability are some of the consequences of stress and worry.

In all creation human beings are the only creatures who worry. Worry clouds judgement, distorts perspective, and conjures up frightful scenes that further elevate stress and anxiety. Anxiety is known to suppress the immune system, elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of cholesterol blockage of arteries leading to heart attacks. When the immune system is down there is no protection against disease. The Adrenal glands function below capacity decreasing the output of adrenaline, which is one of the energy producing hormones. This causes decreased energy during the day and sleep disruption during the night. Anxiety leads to increased muscle tension causing headaches, neck pain, body pain and generalized body ache. Anxiety also causes hyperacidity and other gastrointestinal problems.

The sure way to conquer anxiety and worry is to take control of negative thoughts and focus on the positive. The Book of Proverbs says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine. But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22. Science supports this biblical view. Studies at the John Hopkins and other Universities have shown that a healthy mind and a positive attitude will lead to a healthier body and an increase in the ability to cope with difficult situations. According to scientific studies on humans and animals, Lead author and Professor Emeritus in Psychology of the University of Illinois Ed Diener says positive feelings about life leads to longevity and better health.

 Even during this deadly pandemic of Covid 19, there are ways to focus on the positive.

1.      Find a quiet place, sit down and take stock of the situation. Is there any way you can help to improve the situation? Yes, you can by faithfully following the safety protocol prescribed – mask, social distancing and handwashing. The mask is only of use if it properly covers the nose, the mouth and the chin. Many people are careless and let the mask slip below the nose or even drop below the chin. Some people pull down their masks when speaking, thus defeating the whole purpose of its use to prevent droplets diffusing into space. Keeping a distance from the next person (recommended distance six feet) has been flaunted indiscriminately as was seen during the election rallies and the Kumbh Mela, leading to a steep rise and a wider dispersion of infection. Frequent washing of hands may be cumbersome (many complain of dry and chapped hands) but unavoidable.

2.      Get involved with social support systems. Seek close ties with family and friends through phone calls, WhatsApp messages and video chats, virtual interactions through connections like Zoom, through emails and letters. Connecting with people acts as a mood elevator.

3.      Read a funny book or watch a movie that makes you laugh and puts you in a happy mood. Happiness boosts the immune system and counteracts inertia and dismal thoughts.

4.      Listen to music and if you are a musician, don’t forget to play your instrument daily as music calms and refreshes the soul and is an effective mood elevator.

5.      Exercise regularly. Bending and stretching and walking within your boundaries will keep muscles supple and the circulation in your limbs better. There are also a variety of breathing exercises which facilitate air entry into your lungs and removes secretions that clog respiratory passages.

6.      Meditation and prayer are dependable stress busters. Knowing God in a personal way increases self-esteem and removes fear. Meditation helps switch off from the outside world and allows you to tap your inner consciousness. Spirituality undoubtedly improves health and wellbeing.

Even in this challenging time of the pandemic, focusing on the positive is an invaluable remedy and will decrease fear, stress and anxiety. Of what use are negative thoughts when we cannot change or control the situation? Samuel Smiles says, “Hope is the companion of power and the mother of success, for who so ever hopes strongly, has within him the power of miracles.”

Let us firmly believe that “there is hope, there is a better tomorrow and miracles can happen.”

Stay positive, Stay Happy and safe.