“Keep calm and carry on.” “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” “Don’t worry, be happy.” These are the kinds of pithy, inspiring phrases and quotes that, historically speaking, have the power to steady us through challenging times.
David G Allan in an article appeared in CNN has suggested ways for encountering the Corona Crisis. Francis Bacon long ago wrote, Fear of death is worse than death itself. So we must shed this fear. But how?
Dr Harriet Lerner in her bestseller The Dance of Fear has recently suggested ways how to tackle the panic accompanying COVID -19.
More than 29 lakh people are globally infected by novel coronavirus causing death of over 2 lakhs. These are official calculations of infected people. There are a still a huge number of asymptomatic people who are responsible for spreading community infection silently.
Now you exactly don’t know who is actually a Corona infected. Can you believe your own self? Are you yourself free of Corona virus? We are now unable to trust our own hands.
In this atmosphere of mistrust doubt and lockdown we all are confined in quarantine. Financial markets are rattled, local economies are upended. In this atmosphere of uncertainty and unpredictability there is still room for a bit of optimism and courage.
Researchers in Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Oxford University are hopeful of developing a vaccine for human body shortly. Today itself Oxford scholars are experimenting with ChAdox1 on human body. In a short time may be one year and a half a vaccine will surely come out and man will win the long battle against virus once again as he won earlier against Flu, Plague or Ebola.
We are trying to save for now by hand washing, stockpiling and practising social distancing. The world is rife with misinformation. So first thing we should do is to ignore the unregulated online news and avoid fake messages spread through whatsapp and facebook or other social media.
Anxieties escalate and fantasies flourish in the absence of information. But if we overdo it too much information will aggravate stress. We can keep the pandemic in perspective by balancing what we should and should not do.
Physical distancing in the time of lockdown goes against our deep human need for physical connection. So we should involve ourselves in self-engaging activities such as singing or listening music, writing poems or stories or doing other creative work or painting pictures and musing on topical issues.
We can identify our anxiety-driven reactivity. We should refrain from shaming and blaming. Politicisation and communalisation can make the situation worse. In spite of social distancing , we are here to help each other out in all possible ways. Passivity and inaction will make fear grow. Anxiety can push us to under or over-react. Humour can save us in this tragic time and can provide some comic relief.
Children are suffering most for whom we can arrange virtual meeting apps by using platforms like Zoom and Skype to hold a virtual party or a virtual happy hour. People are putting a heart, bear or a rainbow in a window to allow kids to go on a hunt. We can arrange mock cultural function events inside home with all participating in it by singing reciting or dancing.
Even by making healthy and tasty dishes with available items we can make the children happy. They should be involved in the cooking and this way they will learn to share household works. Many children are becoming mobile addicts and playing games whole day.
We should take precaution to stop such addictive pastimes for children. They should wash their hands, do yoga and other indoor activities. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living in an unprecedented time. Write about it. Or if you always wanted to write a book, start writing it now in this long period of leisure.
Avoid chatting with people who are communal minded or habituated with spreading rumour and fake news to startle their friends. This pseudo learned friends should be physically and digitally distanced. You can leave your homes in most cases, just practice social distancing.
Doctors say fresh air and exercise are good for not only your physical health but also mental health. Only never take the children now to the park or playground. If you do end up on a playground, make sure you wash your hands and don’t touch your face but it is difficult to avoid physical and social distancing in the park and playground.
The most important thing is to avoid self medication. Now many are watching President Trump’s speech and taking Hydrochloroquin which is very dangerous practice for anyone even if he sneezes or catches cold.
Many doctors in the USA have expressed serious reservation about Hydrochloroquin whatever panacea the American President has found in it. Keep your Tv switch off. Don’t be a psychological patient by keeping your eyes glued to Corona fears all day and night.
Rather you make in the kitchen new dishes for experimenting but avoid too much oil and sugar. Keep watch on adequate intake of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. Consult the doctor without hiding your disease. Hide and seek may be the worst thing for us in the Corona-ridden times.
“A life lived in fear is a life half lived,” declares a character in the 1992 Australian film “Strictly Ballroom,” the line attributed to the film’s director and co-writer, Baz Luhrmann. So smile out fear and live happily as long as you can.
Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee is Assoicate Professor at Dum Dum Motijheel College, Kolkata. Prapancha Boruah teaches Assamese at LTK College, North Lakhimpur.