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The mind hates uncertainty. The mind dislikes lack of clarity. Uncertainty and un- clarity create fear of the unknown. Fear creates anxiety and anxiety corrodes positivity, creativity and growth. The biological battle of fighting the virus is in full swing. All the scientists in the world and specialists like bio chemists, bio physicist, bio mechanics are all focused on discovering how to combat this slithery, slippery virus. Daily millions of minds are working on its study, analysis and research. Trends, graphs, anecdotes are all dishing out in hundreds to determine its reality. However little or no research is being done on how to tackle the parallel health issue that billions of people are going through-mental stress and continuous anxiety.
Many researchers are comparing this crisis to the Recession of 2009. The stock markets tumbling, giant corporates going bankrupt and millions being unemployed. The comparison is almost irrelevant as what is happening presently is not just risking money and jobs but losing lives and living. This complete uncertainty about what is going to happen tonight, tomorrow and then God knows till when, is killing people mentally. This subject needs immediate and equal attention. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, mental stress lowers immunity and immunity is the enemy of Coronavirus, and secondly, mental stress creates panic and dysfunctional behavior which itself disturbs the disciplined living required in lockdowns and quarantines.
Panic has already started exhibiting in buying patterns. All over the world people have started hoarding stuff like groceries as if there is no tomorrow. Long queues at early hours to whisk away stuff before it hits the shelf is a common place sight across the world. Videos showing Americans queuing outside gun shops to buy guns to protect themselves against people robbing them of their stuff is the result of minds that are working on negativity overtime. This itself indicates stress-induced behavior that hinders normal thinking or actions. Stress reduces immunity so it is important to reduce stress to increase immunity. Here are 10 practical ways we can reduce stress:
1. Stick to Basics- Practice the things that you can do. Fear and negativity make you neglect the basics. Take care of hygiene. Wash hands the right way. Stay home and avoid contact. When you are conscious that you are doing what you can for safety, it is one stress less.
2. Restrict Corona Obsession- The urge to be on the news of what is happening in the Corona world by reading every article, every study, every update, every tweet, every post is going to add to the fear factor progressively. Stop watching TV news all the time. Keep yourself updated on basics but following every video and message will fill your mind with things you cannot do anything about and add to your stress.
3. Form a Routine- If you are a worker and now at home the lack of routine will distress you. Form a schedule that you more or less followed in your work days. Being in bed and not changing is not good. Get up, change and look ready. Have a diary. Try to create a schedule of when to work, when to talk, when to call, when to read etc.
4. Have a Gratitude break- Make a list of all the things that you have and you need to be grateful about. Preferably write them down and think about all the positive associations and memory of them. Refer to the good events in your life. See videos of family or work that always refresh you and thank God for them.
5. Develop a Virtual Friends Group- Try to have a group that does not only share negative news but have a group of friends who can chat, laugh and discuss non-corona things too. Download games on apps and reserve a time to play a 10-minute game with one of your friends.
6. Develop a plan to Contribute-This is a time where the whole world needs the whole world. From volunteering physically to financially to emotionally all sorts of requirements are in over abundance. Decide what you need to select and design some goals for it. May be what you can do is to target a certain amount of financial contribution you will raise for a certain need through your sources and friends. You may also make some small daily goals that 'today I will arrange for 10 food cartons for poor people', etc. This is sure to keep you feel occupied, connected and needed. This will also keep your mind from focusing on the worst and doing your best.
7. Follow a hobby-Some people have specific hobbies like video-gaming or painting, etc. Others may not have one so develop a certain one like baking or gardening if it interests you and keep yourself occupied in it for at least one hour a day.
8. Develop a Physical fitness plan- Keeping at home is normally considered a holiday with minimum physical activity. Reset your mind that this is a week day. All those who used to go to Gym need to see how they can select a place either in their room or if they have space outside do a work out that is feasible. All studies prove that exercise releases dopamine chemicals that reduce mental stress. Look at videos according to your space and time availability and follow them for at least 10 days with forced discipline so that your body starts demanding them naturally.
9. Join online programmes- There are many free online courses available on many sites to upgrade your skills. You may train to become a counsellor on virtual programmes so that you can help your family and friend reduce stress in these difficult times. Keep looking for live online sessions in your field of interests as most organizations are offering programmes to keep people engaged.
10. Appreciate smallest achievements- Positivity is tough in times of extreme negativity. But practicing acknowledgement of the smallest kindness and bravery by others boosts your and other people's morale. Appreciate any acts of volunteering. Write posts on your social media about frontline fighters like doctors, nurses, public health and public utility workers who are still there amidst all the risks while you are sitting in the safety of your houses.
The vaccine to create resistance against Corona Virus may take time. Meantime, use GTC 'vaccine' that is in your influence. GTC is Gratitude, Tribute and Contribute. By focusing on these three mental faculties it is scientifically proven that you produce chemicals that help build your immunity and inspire others to keep their spirits up in times of uncertainty and crisis.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed and recommendations made in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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