It’s official, the Coronavirus disease has been declared a pandemic.

So far, 120,000 people in more than a hundred countries have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the name given to this new disease.

The death toll globally has surpassed 4000 people, stock markets have plunged, communities have cancelled events and gatherings, many businesses have asked their employees to work from home, thousands upon thousands of travellers have postponed or cancelled their trips, and face masks and disinfectants have disappeared from store shelves.

The fear is palpable.

While it’s important to stay on top of the news, to keep churning over the same fear-based news stories can’t be good for you. What can you do to stay calm amidst concerns about the spread of the virus?

Strengthen yourself

I firmly believe that if I allow myself to be weakened by negative thoughts, stress, fear, a bad diet and poor lifestyle habits, I will make myself more susceptible to not only the coronavirus but any disease.

My best defence is prevention and focussing on what I can do to stay healthy in my body and mind, rather than getting sucked into fear.

I’d like to tell you a story about the green spruce tree in my front yard. A few years ago, it was infected by a bug. Whole branches were dying, and the needles were browning and falling off.

I asked an arborist to come and see what he could do. He told me the tree was dying but because of a ban on pesticides in Toronto where I live, he wasn’t allowed to spray the tree.

I was disappointed to hear that because the tree was nearly twenty years old and two stories high. It would be a shame to not do anything about it.

Just then, Dan turned toward me and said, “If you don’t mind spending some money on pruning the dead branches and fertilizing the tree consistently for the next two years, there is a chance that it can recover on its own.”

“A healthy tree is the best defence against pests,” said Dan.

I chose to strengthen the tree’s own defences through pruning and fertilising and sure enough, in two years, the tree was totally green. It took another year or two before it fully regained its former health, but the good news is that the tree is still standing and healthy.

The point is that if you strengthen yourself in your body and importantly in your mind, you stand a good chance of warding off any bugs or negativity.

Choose to focus on the good news

There seems to be a great fear about contracting the virus. But getting the virus may not be the worst thing that can happen to you.

Recently, I heard a speech by Mr. Gan Kim Yong, the Minister for Health of Singapore. Singapore has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as a model for effective detection and containment of the virus.

Mr. Gan mentioned that although the virus seems to be more transmissible, it is less deadly than the virus that caused SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003.

The World Health Organisation explains that of those that do get the disease, 80% will have only mild or no symptoms and recover. About 15% may get a severe infection, and about 5% will need hospitalisation of which a small percentage may actually die. The percentage of deaths depends on the location and age of the people, and other factors such as any prevailing underlying conditions.

And, what’s important to remember is that not everyone who is exposed to the virus will get sick with the disease. Most people are able to ward off the virus naturally.

Getting diagnosed with COVID-19 is not a death sentence. Although the elderly, health personnel in the front lines of care, and those with compromised immune systems are at high risk, even they stand a chance of recovering from the disease given the right and timely treatment.

Let’s focus on the good.

Don’t panic

Worry never makes sense. I once heard a spiritual teacher explain why.

He said that if it’s a situation you can do something about, then go ahead and take the steps necessary to handle it. Why worry about it?

On the other hand, if it’s something you can’t do anything about, why worry? It’s going to happen anyway whether you worry about it or not.

Rev. J.P. Vaswani, another master once said that worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. All the rocking that you do will get you nowhere.

If you are like me and you look back at your life, you will find that most of your fears never materialized. Self-help author and teacher Dr. Wayne Dyer said that the word, “FEAR” is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.

Understand that while we do need to take the necessary precautions as recommended by health authorities, there is no need to panic.

Worry, stress and fear work against you. These kinds of thoughts reduce your productivity, increase the chances of making mistakes and worst of all, lower your immunity—the very thing you want to boost.

Substitute with positive thoughts

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient yogic text on the science of the mind and its control has a remedy for negative thinking: When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of (2.33 ).In other words, if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, substitute them with positive thoughts. Sounds like a simple remedy but it actually works.

Instead of: What if I get sick with the virus? What if I’m quarantined and can’t go out? What if I get sent to the hospital? What if…I die?

Affirm:  I am enjoying vibrant health. I am safe and sound. All is going well in my life.

Thinking positive thoughts subdues the old tendencies and creates new channels of thought. If you’d like to read more supportive positive habits, read my article, How to eliminate negative thoughts.

Another powerful technique is prayer. Prayer can transform your body, mind and life. Read: The miraculous healing mantra.

Keep your mind healthy

COVID-19 is a new disease that is causing great alarm all over the world. There is an urgent need to contain the contagion of fear.

It doesn’t help to give away your energy to news that incites fear and panic. It’s far more beneficial to focus on staying healthy in your body and more importantly, your mind. Even a healthy body can succumb to ill health if the mind is stressed and holds negative thoughts. In other words, you can make yourself sick by the thoughts you hold.

So the key is to strengthen yourself. Take the common-sense measures recommended by health authorities. And, when you choose to hold a positive outlook, focus on the good news, stop worrying, and strive to substitute negative thoughts and habits with positive ones, you will have a far greater chance of staying calm and healthy in the midst of this trying time.

What do you think? I’d like to hear your views on this topic. Please post your comments below.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "So You're a Spiritual Being–Now What?" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. She is based in Richmond Hill and Markham, Ontario. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counselling sessions in person or on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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