Reality Check: Thoughts on Going Viral

You’ve already heard about the virus. I’ve been torn about whether to write about it. There is already so much discussion, and I certainly have no medical information to offer. What could I possibly add that might be helpful?
However, there are people who are so stressed, some getting information from less-than-reliable sources, and others who have encouraged me to add my two cents. So, I’ll give it a try.
My first point is about fear of the future.
When a new virus appears and there’s no vaccine or cure for it, humans are vulnerable. That’s because it’s new. However, humans are also innovative and responsive. Smart, dedicated people are working on vaccines, treatments, cures.
A treatment doesn’t make a disease disappear but it is less frightening when we have ways to fight it.
However, before treatments or vaccines are available, we need to take care. It’s not business as usual. All of the advice about staying home, washing hands, etc. is reasonable. This doesn’t mean things will never be normal again. It just means we need to take more care while we are vulnerable.
My next point is about perception.
I’d looked up information about death rates from pandemics over the years. That might not sound comforting, but actually it is. Pandemics in earlier times have killed many people. But more recent ones, while still destructive, have not been so deadly. Why? Medicine. Research. Human progress and ingenuity.
We have better hygiene, better medicine, and better knowledge than ever before.
However, what we also have is better mass communication. So while the numbers of deaths and illnesses say one thing, it’s difficult to stay calm when we’re inundated with breathless discussions of the disasters that could happen.
How much of this news is helpful for you? You can turn it off, you know. While it’s important to get information, it’s also important to choose our sources. For example, would be a credible source.
My final point is about perspective.
It seems that everything: newscasts, schools, events have been impacted. When you feel that the whole world is gone nuts, it’s hard to keep things in perspective.
There’s plenty that we can’t control. But there is a lot we can control, too.
For example, we can take care of ourselves—eat properly, get some exercise. Stress can be a health hazard, too! Reduce it by doing what works for you—breathe deeply, watch a funny movie.
We may be spending more time with our families as a result of all this. We can perceive that reality as being trapped together or quality time to be together. That’s a choice.
I’ll leave you with four thoughts:
1. Take control of what we can control. Do what we can to stay healthy, to eat right, and be active.
2. Take sensible precautions and avoid unnecessary risks. If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out. This virus isn’t the only risk (or perhaps the worst risk) that we have ever faced or will face. Life is inherently risky. Now is a good time to remind ourselves to look at all of our activities from the perspective of safety.
For example, pay attention when driving. Wear safety glasses when you should. Keep your fingers away from rotating objects. It’s always important to think of safety, and this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves of that.
3. Look after each other. Check in with people who might be vulnerable and ask, “Are you ok?” We can stay connected even if it’s not in person. We can call, write, email. We don’t have to hug, but we can smile.
4. Leave some toilet paper on the shelf for the next person.
What are your thoughts?

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