- Dr. Lalit Chawla
E#39: How to Prepare for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)- Stay Calm and Plan On
This is a special episode to discuss precautions, attitudes and mindset around the Pandemic
(This is the core of the transcript from the podcast. The Intro has been removed and some areas improved for reading ease.)
I didn't want to weigh in on the Cornavirus, because that's all that we hear about currently, but people have been asking me in the clinic about it and other doctors as well. I think there are a few things that are worth noting that may not have been said or not said enough. So here are my key points to protect you and your family from the Coronavirus and how to prepare for it. I say this in no particular order.
Firstly, there has been a lot of fear around this because of how rapidly it spreads and the consequences it can have. But what's so concerning is the level of fear that people are having and how they are reacting in certain pockets of society. I'm sure we've all heard stories where people are stealing masks and pushing people to get toilet paper etc. which really been driven from fear. The key thing to note is that fear doesn't solve problems but instead creates it.
Fear is different than being concerned or level headed. Fear blinds a person's ability to find solutions. Fear also results in acting foolishly and often regretfully. I know when I've done things out of fear, I've regretted it and wish I could have taken it back and had not been a scarcity mindset.
So let's remember to dial it down and to use common sense and have human dignity and respect in all situations.
Fear blinds a person's ability to find solutions.
Bad behaviour is driven from a scarcity mentality- as if there isn't enough to go around, but there is. And we have to work calmly together in this time of concern. So I encourage you, and I remind myself, to not be scarcity driven. This virus is a test of how we will behave not only as a global community but also as individuals-which ultimately impacts all of us and our major institutions. The most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, homeless, poor, don't have the ability to stockpile and get care, so when we misbehave, we are sacrificing their well being. I know most of you know this, but I say it as a reminder to all of us that we need to think and choose more wisely, more proactively and compassionately.
Plus how we behave as adults is an example for our children, and they are watching how we act- will we behave compassionately or rudely. We all need each other.
Secondly, fear and anxiety decrease our immune system and our ability to deal with infections. Many studies have shown this. One interesting study in the Psychosomatic Medicine Journal done by S. Cohen and colleagues did in 2003, looked at the Emotional style and susceptibility to the common cold.
Subjects were injected with a strain of the cold virus, and they looked at the individuals...
Subjects were injected with a strain of the cold virus, and they looked at the individuals who were happier, in other words, not fearful, and they felt better, and they had fewer symptoms of illness. In other words, they didn't get the typical respiratory symptoms that the unhappy group got.
Does this mean that I'm very Pollyanna about this, meaning don't worry about things and be nonsensically happy? Well the answer is no, but there is excellent evidence that people who are calmer, more relaxed, healthier and happier always do better physically.
If you're in the medical profession, you know that to be the case. The mind-body connection is real. Positive people heal better and quicker so that's one thing you should be stocking up on. Stock up on good attitude, an attitude of patience, kindness and gratitude. And I know some of you won't agree with this, but I hope it gives you a moment of pause to really think about this. And I know that there are many of you who totally understand this, and live this way consistently, so consider this a reminder to keep doing the wonderful work that you are doing.
Now by no means am I advocating that we shouldn't be concerned or mindful and to prepare and do the right things, but do it with respect and dignity. Be calm and plan on.
Thirdly, being in healthcare and I know my colleagues will agree with me on this, is that we need to be mindful of how we are taking care of each other. But the public also have to respect the physical space and equipment that belongs to hospitals and clinics. Stealing masks or other things will not help you if you are taking away from the very people that will be trying to provide care for you or your loved ones or friends.
common sense is uncommon but we need to bring that back in play.
I won't even talk about the limited effectiveness of those masks. Still, we need proper protection for all the front line health care professionals such as the nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, receptionists and so on. And by stealing it, you are taking it away from the people in hospitals or clinics that are closer to people with illness and in the front line. If people behaved the way they have been with the toilet paper hoarding crisis of 2020 and stole or hoarded equipment from the hospital environment, then that's criminal and unethical in so many ways. Think things through before doing something silly or selfish. I realize this is not going to be affecting most of you who are listening to this but I think it's worth mentioning.
The next point is that common sense is uncommon but we need to bring that back in play. And if you sometimes lack it, like I do with my wife and household chores, I ask her. And she is more than willing to help me find common sense. So ask someone who may know more that you do.This brings me to my next point,
we will be seeing if people respect the work of science and intelligence, or whether we are more moved by personal opinions
Number four, choose wisely the information you are seeing. There is an avalanche of information and when there is too much information, it can create anxiety and confusion. Don't ignore information but make sure you're not getting information from a source that may not be reputable.
This is a time where we will be seeing if people respect the work of science and intelligence, or whether we are more moved by personal opinions rather than scientific evidence. Science has made tremendous advancements in people's health and longevity and sometimes we take that for granted and forget that. Simple revolutionary discoveries such as sterile techniques and hand washing are so vital. And we need to do those type of things now.
This is not a new thing, but washing your hand is the proper use of common sense. Think about other things you can do that aligns with that. Minimizing social contact, social isolation, this helps bring the intensity of how many people are exposed and helps minimize the outbreak significantly and protects the people who are vulnerable and at risk such as the elderly or people who have weak immune systems or chronic medical conditions. The other reason for social isolation is so that we do not overburden the hospital system whereby we cause it to collapse. It's not like we have an abundance of facilities and people to work there; that's the whole purpose of flattening the curve or suppressing the surge of cases. If we do things well, we will minimize the effect of the Coronavirus and then we may have the other problem where we may ignorantly think, what was all the hype about?
Even though schools have been cancelled, events and travel plans have been cancelled, remember things like music haven't been cancelled, laughter hasn't been cancelled, time with family hasn't been cancelled, the ability to read books haven't been cancelled, happiness hasn't been cancelled, so let's look at what we have. It's all about where we put our energies and focus on. What you focus on grows.
Let me talk a bit about social isolation. Social isolation doesn't mean it's a prison sentence. Even though schools have been cancelled, events and travel plans have been cancelled, remember things like music haven't been cancelled, laughter hasn't been cancelled, time with family hasn't been cancelled, the ability to read books haven't been cancelled, happiness hasn't been cancelled, so let's look at what we have. It's all about where we put our energies and focus on. What you focus on grows.
Also, eat well, sleep well and drink plenty of water. Stay healthy. This is good old grandmotherly advice, but hey, they lived to a ripe old age doing this so that's worth considering. Simple things are often the best things to do.
This COVID-19 event has also made us also look at the way we do things that we never did before, for example coffee shops are not refilling personal cups because it's not hygenic. So we need to think of those things.
How we greet each other with handshakes can be changed. In India, for centuries people greeted each other with Namaste; putting our two hands together with a little bow. This is a symbol of respecting the divinity within the other person and in turn yourself.
Also, I am constantly surprised at the poor habits people have, by not even washing their hands properly or after they goto the washroom- and I know many of you are probably saying "yep I've seen them".
So Make sure you wash for at least 20 seconds and thoroughly with soap or an appropriate hand sanitizer. Sing the short version of happy birthday and don't use the extended version, that maybe a bit funnier but not necessary.
not touching your face is hard; one reason people do this is because of stress
The other thing is that not touching your face is hard; one reason people do this is because of stress, and touch our own face eases any tension or stress that we have. That's why we do this. We are all do this, we all do this so instinctively, I'm guilty of it, but we can change it.
One way to limit is by looking at what your triggers and increasing our awareness. And instead of touching your face touch your upper chest. If you have an itch, use a tissue.
Clean your cell phones, car keys, doorknobs, etc. daily, especially if you're in healthcare….they are little Petri dishes that help spread germs.
I'm going to say this again, More than ever, Eat healthier, drink at least 2 litres of water, get enough sleep, find joy, get exercise get fresh air and do things appropriately, and find laughter in your day.
Again, Use common sense, but that's hard for many of us because as the old saying goes, common sense is uncommon. Think more consciously about what you are doing. Do you need to do something vs. wanting to do something? Do you really need to gather or have that conference or event with a lot of people? Do you really need to take that all inclusive trip to tropical islands right now? You know in several weeks you'll forget about it, so have some amnesia about your wants and focus on what's important.
Most importantly, if you're sick or have symptoms that are mild don't visit the elderly or other people. Have some respect for yourself and others.
Nervous and anxiety is not gonna help the situation, especially in the healthcare sector.
Healthcare providers are working calmly and diligently to not only provide care and planning for this, but we also have to remember they're also taking care of people who are chronically ill. And if we over stress them and the system, then everyone suffers.
This too Shall Pass. Stay Calm and Plan on
So in summary, take time to respect and take care of your own energy and others energy level. Be mindful, respectful, dial the anxiety down. Be calm to do things the right way. This situation will pass, so...
Stay calm and plan on.
May good health and happiness be with you and your family.
Thank you for listening.
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I'm Dr. Lalit Chawla let's together make a greater, more effective community so that you live with greater passion, harmony and magic in your life and help others do the same.
Have a fantastic weekend!
I would love to hear any comments about this podcast and what would you like to hear in future episodes?