Many of us have two moods these days: panic and worry about every little detail, or “It is what it is.” Speaking of which, there is no panic like trying to press “End Call” when you accidentally call someone. Can you relate? So why did the Mexican take his anti-anxiety medication? For his panic attack. Heh.
Surely, we all want to prevent the worst and put safety first. But there is a subtle or not so subtle contagion in the world right now, my friends. Its symptoms include severe, unending anxiety, avoiding public places despite all precautions, sleep disruptions, thoughts of suicide, and outright hysteria. Hoarding food and paper goods, excessive hand washing and wringing, and literally hiding in their homes, many remain with mounting nervousness and foreboding, without any consistent, dependable, reliable information.
For those who truly need to be extra cautious at this time, by all means, guard yourself as you may. No one advocates taking unnecessary risks. On the other hand, why is the word COVID-19 in huge bold capital letters everywhere it is written? What other word receives that linguistic honor? Is the word G-d capitalized in bold – in uppercase – in any article you have read lately? Whose decision was that? What effect does that have? Why are there still humongous signs saying: “COVID numbers are rising in your neighborhood” when they are not?
Facts may be totally obscured due to the politics of fear. The media has proven itself to be biased, deceitful, and dishonorable. Once that trust erodes, even when you are reassured and told not to worry, you will remain skeptical, unsettled, upset, and uneasy. With the ongoing so-called “reporting” on every alleged “case” and unending updates, many continue dwelling on this virus. In addition to severe anxiety, some even report having physical symptoms, such as headaches, upset stomach, and nausea. Know this, my friends: Perception of risk cancels out our ability to rationally calculate genuine threat or danger.
Fear messaging alarms people. We humans assess risk and vulnerability based on emotions as well as what we believe to be accurate information. Oftentimes, while we are juggling both, our fears trump our reasoning or analytic deductions. An obsessive safety culture does not have to become our destiny. Research shows that face tattoos completely eliminate certain types of anxiety. For example, you’ll never need to worry about finding a job. You don’t have a nervous system. You are a nervous system? Trust me, I get it. You know what they say: The best safety car device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.
Taking way too many precautions to ward off panic is just as unhealthy as any other maladaptive behavior. Whether you agree with their efficacy or not, face coverings are not benign. Seeing people’s faces, especially their smiles, helps you modulate and regulate your own nervous system. When was the last time you walked down the street and saw one? Not knowing how anyone around you is feeling actually increases your apprehension. People need people. Have you received hugs, or affection, as of late? The loss of human connection is simply incalculable.
It is difficult to accept that we live in a world of uncertainty, most of which we honestly have little or no control over. Collateral damage of this new world order, which arbitrarily mandates rules, is immense, with no end in sight. Over 20 million Americans lost their jobs in 2020. Barriers created for those suffering from substance disorders are ignored by the media. Solitary substance abuse has skyrocketed. Addiction, hunger, abuse, and suicide receive no news coverage whatsoever. Lockdown and “Stay at home” orders have astronomically increased depths of despair.
What were the top two causes of death in the US in 2020 according to the CDC? Congestive heart failure was number one – not the ‘vid. Number two was cancer. Nearly four times more people than the ‘vid. So why the obsessive, all-consuming reporting day and night? Yes, we all know: Check yourself before you wreck yourself. No one would encourage flat out recklessness. We may not all be good at math, but the risks we do take are calculated. Every single decision we make has a risk/reward component to it.
So your doctor asked you if you ever had a stress test. And you said: “Yes. It’s called life.” I get it. We need to improve our resilience, sweet friends. Healthy living needs to be part of the conversation. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising improve your psycho-neurological immunological response immeasurably. Health matters, as does your mindset. Nutrition and fitness also save lives.
Science can be manipulated. Culture can influence science. Do not censor opposing views, please. No matter what your position, please remember that debate should not be demonized. Dogmatic bullying of any kind should make you quite wary. Please do not underestimate the profound mental health consequences of policies. For so many, the mental health impact will far outlast the physical impact of this crisis.
There may be unintended harm and lasting repercussions associated with how we are reacting. It is not side-effect-free. The severity of injuries among child abuse-related visits to the emergency room has increased exponentially. Not to mention the fact that most cases are undetected, as the women or children have increased exposure to the abusers in the very homes they are forced to lock down in. It appears as though “The Matrix” may have in fact been a documentary.
While some deem them as safety measures, they do not take into account the devastating effect of long-term social isolation. Please take care of your sweet selves, my friends. Breathe through your nose. Get adequate oxygenation. Go to bed at a reasonable time. Manage your stress. Tell a joke. How do you keep a bagel from getting away? Put lox on it. If it doesn’t land, laugh anyway. Start a laugh contagion. It’s been said: An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh.
She just said it’s rude to interrupt her anxiety attack with your positive thoughts. Guess what? You do not have to control all your thoughts. Just don’t let them control you. Your body is your vessel and a divine gift. Please treat it as such. Your journey to physical and mental health is a personal path. What does yours look like?