The coronavirus is a 'pandemic' which is sweeping across the globe - are you worried or unphased about it's media-crazed lethality?
How do you feel about the coronavirus (COVID-19)? On a scale of neutral and ambivalent to worried and freaked out, where do you sit? It's hard to escape news of the burgeoning "pandemic". Information about it is emblazoned in and on news channels from social media and websites to print and everything in between.
Stories abound of the impact it's having almost everywhere: sports events are being cancelled or postponed, the impact being felt across rugby, football, cycling, formula one and even the possible cancellation of this year's Olympic Games. Exhibitions, carnivals and music concerts are being postponed and cancelled. News about the virus is having an impact on travel with airline ticket sales plummeting and tourism sectors across the globe feeling the pinch as travellers cancel plans. Panic about the coronavirus has also affected stock markets sending them into a tailspin. World share markets have lost about R78 trillion ($5 trillion) in value since news of the virus started to spread. There are many questions about the virus. Some have easy answers: Why is it called coronavirus? Where did coronavirus come from? Can coronavirus be cured? Other questions are not so readily answered: How does coronavirus spread? Will coronavirus kill us all? Is coronavirus man-made?
Take a moment and ask yourself what does all of this make you feel? Scared, angry, worried, stressed, or something else?
One of the key things we learnt in 2019 was about the link between emotions and how they affect our health. So much so that we now advocate attending to emotional wellbeing as the number one activity you can do to stay physically healthy. We have taken this to heart and focussed more consciously on building our Shape of Emotion daily practice. We are on a 54-day streak out of 62 possible days in the year so far. Every day we dial-down at least one difficult emotion and dial-up one supportive emotion.
Last year we did some deep-diving into the research published to-date on the connection between emotions and heath. Here's a sample of what we discovered about stress and its effect on the body.
- Stress affects our body's ability to heal itself. This covers small wounds like blisters and major surgery. Feeling less stressed after an operation means less reliance on medication and lower levels of pain after surgery.
- Stress also affects our immune system. This means that if you are constantly stressed and don't do anything about it, you will very likely get sick.
- Stress increases levels of cortisol in the body and there's often an unconscious response to combat the cortisol increase by eating more. Put another way, stress can cause you to eat more than usual which can in turn lead to weight gain.
All is not lost, however. Developing a higher level of emotional resilience can go a long way to boosting your health. So much so, that in one study people who had a more positive emotional outlook on life were purposefully given the cold virus and didn't get sick. In our experience this means doing things like exercise, connecting with friends, slowing down, having healthy boundaries and engaging in activities like meditation and Shape of Emotion.
Coming back to COVID-19. Whether the news is all real, partially real (fake news anyone?) or exaggerated to push an agenda for the rich global elites (maybe a tinfoil hat for you?), whatever you feel will determine your course of action about it. If you feel like we are doomed and that the virus is going to wipe us all out, what sort of action will you take? If you feel like this is a new, stronger flu but like many diseases before, we will adapt to it, what sort of action will you take? If, for the tinfoil hat brigade, you feel like something else is going on, again, what sort of action will you take?
Not only do our emotions determine our levels of health and healing, they also impact our ability to make choices and take action. If you are feeling a little (or a lot) overwhelmed by all this virus news-stuff, here's a suggestion: join us this Thursday at our next Emotional Fitness Class, where you will be offered the opportunity to release any worries, doubts or fears you may be having. Consider it your first step on the journey to freedom from the fear-mongering that seems so often to cloud issues like this one. Consider it a cure to the coronavirus madness!