10 Ways to Overcome Irrational Thoughts About Corona Virus

Corona Virus

by Jayaram V

Officially, Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is now a pandemic, with over 100 countries being affected by it. It has already caused thousands of deaths and widespread panic in different parts of the world. Some are so rattled that they are emptying departmental stores and stacking up things, whether they need them or not. Social networks are abuzz with news and messages about the virus and the number of infections and daily deaths.

The fear is so widespread that one can feel as if we are facing an existential threat. It sent the stock markets crashing and the world economy into a downward plunge. All governments are under tremendous pressure to deal with the problem and show quick results. It is as if we are going through an apocalypse and the end of the world is near.

The reality is that the corona virus took the world by surprise. The virus has many unknowns and causes a contagious disease, which in many respects is like a flu or cold but produces more serious effects in vulnerable people who are older or who  have a weak immune system. Therefore, no one can downplay the seriousness of the problem.

We do not want to talk about the scientific aspects of the disease or the spiritual aspect of it, nor do we intend to minimize the gravity of the situation. The problem needs a permanent solution, which may take at least a year or two.

In times of a crisis, we tend to lose our balance and think irrationally, exaggerating the outcomes and aggravating our fear. Our purpose here is to talk about the fear and irrationality which the Corona Virus Diseases has generated, and how one can rationally deal with it, without compromising one's health and without losing sleep. 

10 ways to overcome irrational thoughts

Here are ten important ways in which you can overcome your irrational thinking about the Corona virus and deal with the problem.

1. Gather information. Ignorance can cause many problems. Read as much as you can from reliable sources about the virus to know how it infects people, what symptoms it produces and how it makes people sick. With more information at your disposal, you will think more rationally and take informed decisions rather than acting out your fears. You will also be able to address fear and concerns. Governments and health organizations have published a lot of useful information about the virus. There are also many reliable healthcare websites. They are a good source to cultivate a balanced view of the problem and stay informed.

2. Be realistic. Do not give into your emotions or feel helpless. In times of difficulties, you have to keep your eyes and ears open and stay in the present. You may not have complete control over how the disease spreads or affects people, but the situation is not completely hopeless. You can still take some measures to protect yourself or find help if needed. There is no need to panic, overstock your house with unnecessary things or lose sleep worrying about it. Focus on prevention. If you are vulnerable due to any chronic condition, stay home and minimize the chances of getting infected. Here is an important resource on how you can protect yourself from Corona virus disease.

3. Be sensible. Do not catastrophize your fears or see worsts outcomes, which is what many people do when they are afraid. As you know, most of our fears are unfounded. We also tend to imagine worst scenarios which makes us even more irrational. It is important in these situations to stay calm and think rationally. Do not think that this is the end of the world.  Corona Virus is a serious problem, but it is not going to kill everyone. Read the experiences of those who were already infected and recovered from it. The recover rate is 80-85%, which is reassuring. If you belong to older age group, keep yourself healthy and minimize the risk of exposure. Here is some important information about a woman who recovered from the disease, and another.

4. Do not minimize the problem, believing that you are immune to the problem and you can take liberties. Corona virus does not discriminate. It infects anyone who comes into contact with it. It has already affected large populations and caused many deaths. Therefore, no one can ignore the seriousness of the problem or the importance of personal safety and preventive measures. It is better to be vigilant and proactive rather than negligent and careless. Avoid going out frequently, visiting bars and clubs or mingling with large crowds. If possible suspend all travel, and follow the guidelines prescribed by the doctors to reduce your exposure and stay safe. This article provides useful information on social distancing and self-quarantine.

5. Do not believe that you can control everything. It is good to be optimistic but not excessively optimistic, ignoring the reality. You may believe that you have magical powers or a special relationship with God or a  higher power, and through them you can control the virus. You may also believe in a higher purpose, which can be a cause to engage in reckless actions. It is good to have faith in God and build strength and courage  through prayers, meditation, yoga, etc. However, because of faith you should not go around trying to help the sick and the infected without protecting yourself. You are still a human, and you cannot test your luck or your faith with reckless actions.

6. Do not jump to conclusions. In a dire situation such as this, it is important not to let your imagination run wild with fear, imagination or assumptions. For example, if you see people of certain ethnic backgrounds, do not scorn them or assume that they will infect you. If you heard someone sneezing, do not imagine that the person is infected. Running nose or sneezing are not in the list of symptoms associated with the disease. You should not also jump to conclusions if you had a minor discomfort in your throat or a headache. Pay attention, think carefully, check the symptoms and take an informed and commonsense decision. Here is an important resource on how you can distinguish Covid-19 from common cold and flu.

7. Do not think that it is the end. It is very certain that Corona virus is not going to end the world by any stretch of imagination. Human beings survived many deadlier existential problems in the past with little knowledge and technology. We will overcome this too, and the world will eventually move on with greater strength, putting the problem behind. If you are careful and determined, you too have a high probability of surviving this threat and emerging unscathed. Fortunately, the disease is not as deadly as some believe. The recovery rate is about 80-85%  for most age groups, which is a positive factor and a cause for hope. Many people in China and elsewhere already recovered from the disease.

8. Do not engage in emotional reasoning.  In these circumstances, it is better to be careful and even pessimistic. However, do not let your feelings and emotions overtake your reason and impair your thinking or relationships. Do not look at everyone with suspicion as if they are going to infect you because you feel so or discriminate them based on their appearance, ethnicity, nationality, religion or race. Just because you feel something, it is not reason enough to act. Feelings and emotions are not facts. They do not necessarily reflect truth. Put your emotional intelligence for positive use such as cultivating empathy and understanding. Here is an important resource on myth vs. fact regarding Corona virus.

9. Do not think that you are always right. It is irrational to believe that you are always right and your opinions matter, whether they are true or not, just because you believe that you are an authority on the subject or you have done your homework to arrive at right inclusions. There is no need to be self-defensive about your methods and actions or close your mind to helpful suggestions and information from others. Keep an open mind and do not to resist authority figures or ignore their advice. For your safety and that of others, be humble, obey government regulations, cooperate with others and follow rules. Here is some useful information on how you can respond to the problem.

10. Avoid blaming. The virus caused many deaths and a lot of inconvenience to a large number of people and forced many to make adjustments, compromises and lifestyle changes, which can be frustrating. Therefore, it is natural for people to be angry or annoyed and blame the government, politicians, God, or the people around them for their predicament. The truth is, the anger is irrational and unjustified because the pandemic is an accident or an act of God. The anger and the negativity will impair your rationality or unintentionally make you shift the blame to others and disown your personal responsibility in taking care of yourself, which is not good for your own safety and wellbeing.

In short, we are probably in the early stages of this pandemic and the worse is yet to come. This is the time be vigilant, rational, realistic, balanced, thoughtful and proactive. It is also the time to be kind and humane and socially responsible, showing consideration for others when you go out and meet people, visit a departmental store to purchase provisions or visit a hospital for testing. When you think of those who have fallen sick, instead of blaming them for carrying the virus and spreading it, think of them as victims of random event which they neither wanted nor caused. A pandemic is a global problem. You do not choose it. It chooses you. Therefore, the best which you can do is to stay calm, be vigilant and think rationally to protect yourself, avoiding the common mistakes and irrational thinking. Instead of Worrying too much or ignoring the basic safety measures, make informed decisions, leaving the rest to God, chance or fate.

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