The world is going mad at the moment. Almost all events have been canceled, borders are closed, people are hoarding products, and anxiety is flying all around. You can actually buy a Coronavirus Survival Kit on eBay, which contains condoms (?), thermometers, hand gel, toilet rolls, face masks, and baked beans (of course). Masks, toilet paper, and sanitizer gels are sold out everywhere.
I can’t even imagine the amount of money this has and will cost us. COVID-19 is and will be a huge burden on our healthcare system and our financial system. But, however f*cked up it is, the whole situation spreads a whole lot of unnecessary fear. In times where anxiety and depression already affect almost 1 in 5 people every year, do we really need to spread more panic?
In this article, I will share some tips on how to stay calm in these turbulent times, and provide you with a far better coronavirus survival kit than the one on eBay.
1. Be Mindful About Where You Get Your News From
The spread of the coronavirus has brought on a lot of misleading information. Remember that the purpose of (social) media is to get more views (that also goes for this blog). Yes, news channels are a good way to stay up to date, especially regarding travel bans. But media often dramatize and sensationalize things, in order to get more views.
Research points out that media have been using more and more sensational production techniques over the last years. Plus, mass media tend to focus on “sound-bite journalism”. Remember that, next time you watch the news or read a blog.
Instead of believing everything you read, look at what actual health experts and your local health authorities say. In the Netherlands, a reliable source for information about COVID-19 is this Q&A page (in English as well as in Dutch) of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
Also, a little tip from the World Health Organization:
2. Don’t Obsess Over the Numbers
When the virus just emerged, in December/January, I kept a close eye on the stats in the news. Every day, I saw the numbers in China increasing. End of January, I actually raced to the doctor one afternoon because my temperature was up by 1 degree (37.5 instead of 36.5). I wasn’t even coughing.
Anyway, a lesson that I learned over the past month, is that you have to keep both feet on the ground. Yes, Europe is the “epicenter of the coronavirus” right now. But the numbers in China are decreasing. And hopefully, all the drastic measures taken by so many governments now will help to really get it under control soon.
Keep an eye on your close surroundings, not just on the stats in the news. And try to put those numbers in perspective. How many people around you are actually sick? How does it compare to the normal flu (according to the RIVM it doesn’t seem more severe than normal flu)?
I’m not trying to trivialize the situation, I’m just trying to keep you from freaking out. Are your worries based on things around you, that are actually happening? Or are they just thoughts in your head, put there by fear-mongering media?
3. Appreciate What You Have
We’re headed for a recession. This was already expected, the coronavirus only made it a bit worse and sped it up. Growth is simply not sustainable. This is a fundamental economic problem: the constant need to grow, expand, make more money, buy more shit, produce more things. Which, in turn, destroys more and more of our planet (and of our souls). Resources are limited. Population is growing. Shit is messed up and it will only get worse.
How to deal with all of this? Well, one way is by appreciating what you have. What are the things, people, experiences, that you are grateful for? And on the other hand, what is the stuff that you can live without? Can you live with less? What do you have around you that doesn’t make you happy? Cut that out of your life. Simplify your life, and enrich your soul instead.
4. “Don’t Follow the Masses. Sometimes, the ‘M’ is Silent” (hence the global run on toilet paper)
Australia, the US, Japan, New Zealand, and also my own country the Netherlands; all over the world, there’s been a run on toilet paper. People see other people stacking up on toilet paper, and they follow their example. What the f*ck are they going to do with all of that? There are so many other ways to clean your behind (eg the shower or a bum gun!).
Unfortunately, most human beings are sheep. They just follow the herd. Something to do with our human need to belong, so we join the crowd. But this can be super dangerous (have you ever heard of a man called Hitler?) and it often doesn’t even line up with who we actually are or want to be. There is absolutely no need to hoard products, and that’s what all experts are saying as well.
5. Meditate To Reduce Anxiety
One way to separate yourself from the crowd is to meditate. Meditation provides you with a sense of belonging and self-love. And it allows you to experience yourself as you truly are, beyond your social role. So you don’t need to follow the (m)asses anymore!
I can’t promote meditation enough. I’ve lived 15 years of my life, dealing with regular anxiety attacks, panic, hyperventilation, and stress. Meditation is a great tool to calm down your body and your mind, to improve your focus, boost your immune system, and to connect to your body (and everything else). Try this 5-minute guided meditation video I made to reduce anxiety:
6. Think About the Upsides
I know, this one is hard. But it also isn’t. Yes, a lot of people have lost and will lose jobs, money, freedom to move, loved ones. That is a huge ordeal, which I absolutely don’t want to trivialize. I’m a freelancer, and although I work online, I’ve already lost some jobs due to the coronavirus.
And being forced to work at home, or stay at home for a certain amount of time, can also be daunting. But on the other hand, it might be an opportunity to spend a bit more time with your family, with your pets, or to work on your own projects.
Also, the planet might be benefitting a little from all of this. Think about all of the CO2 emissions we will cut this year. COVID19 has already cut China’s CO2 emissions by 25% and coal consumption was down by more than a third. The question is, of course, if this will be sustainable – which it probably won’t be, sorry about that.
7. Coronavirus Survival Kit
Okay, so this is not your typical Coronavirus Survival Kit. It does NOT contain toilet paper, baked beans or face masks. What it does contain is the following:
- A Good Book: Limit your (social) media exposure and dive into a good book instead! There are some great books that will make you emerge stronger from this crisis than ever before.
- Common Decency: Do NOT go panic-buying toilet paper or other products. Hoarding unnecessary items is stupid and rude.
- Healthy Stuff: Boost your immune system with veggies, fruit, and all the good stuff, and prevent getting sick.
- Meditation and Yoga Exercises: Can’t go outside? Do some yoga. It’s important to keep exercising and yoga will help you relax and stay fit at the same time.
- Emergency DIY Hand Sanitizer: In case you can’t find any in the store. You only need 2 ingredients: aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol (now don’t go panic-buying those please). Mix 3/4 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1/4 aloe vera (2:1 proportion), add some drops of essential oil or lemon juice, and put into a bottle!