Living through the virus scare

As the panic attack from the virus is almost over, let me share my own tips as to how to navigate through these scary times. Since the matter is now handled by the Government, I didn’t want to add to the confusion but I just came across some people who are still traumatised. One woman shared to me yesterday that after she saw the news, she felt as if she had the virus and the fever. Another said that her daughter is self-isolated in her room.

While these suggestions may help one to live one’s life as normal as possible, there is, however, no such thing as total prevention or reducing the risk to zero. The other thing is, as I had mentioned in my earlier posts, we may be less prone to the disease because of our good immune system, in general. Hence there is no need to play the drama queen.

Some anxiety, yes

Everyone gets anxious. We all do. It is normal. It is our instinct for survival generated by our limbic brain. What we need to watch out for is that our anxiety does not become fear. If it does, then you would overestimate the threat and underestimate your own capability. We would transfer that fear to those around us – to our children and to those who look up to us. We are more likely to make mistakes and irrational decisions, which sometimes can be costly. Certain level of widespread anxiety is good for, it drives preventions and good behaviours in the society.

If you are getting anxious, remind yourself of one thing: human body is strong, resilient and complex – otherwise our species wouldn’t have survived 50,000 years without a hospital. And besides, the new coronavirus is not a death sentence or Bubonic plague. It won’t pounce on us like a leopard.

Don’t be obsessed with updates

Educating yourself and others around you is a must. It was quite alarming that even educated people were joining the Howling Mob on the social media, when they could be researching and giving out good and comforting information. In this day and age where information is available on a click of a button, one can be better informed. For example, if you go through our Annual Health reports, you will find that no Bhutanese has died of common cold – unlike in other countries where thousands do. So we are better off than many other nationalities. Besides, it has been studied that this virus, like other viruses, does not survive outside a living organism for longer than few minutes to an hour.

Do not be obsessed with news and updates, though. One reason for this mass hysteria is the social media that is throwing the pictures, videos, updates, fake news right on our faces. If it wasn’t for the mobile phones and the Internet, this virus would not have gained so much notoriety. Ebola was more fatal. And when the HIV virus was announced, no one lined up at fuel depots or rushed to the pharmacies. It was because news took its own sweet time to reach us and we digested well.

While it is tempting to check the updates on the Facebook or WeChat, doing that every minute will keep you at heightened state of anxiety. A prolonged state of anxiety is harmful to health than the virus itself. It will fuel panic attacks and depressions – to say the least. 

Don’t feel silly to be safe

If you have to take precautions, take them. If you want to avoid large crowds and gathering, stay away. If you feel like washing your hands frequently, do it. If you want to do some religious rituals or invoke your Protector Deity or say your prayers, go ahead. You don’t have to feel silly to feel safe. But again, do not exaggerate and overestimate the threat. What happens when you do that is you won’t be thinking straight. Then you will be queuing up at the pharmacy and shops with hundreds of other people and run into some real risks of infections.   

Eat well, sleep well

To boost your immune system, get vitamin C from natural food, which includes orange, lemon, broccoli, garlic, turmeric, kiwi, papaya, ginger, yogurt, and chilis. Your immune system will either keep you away from the virus or fight them if you are infected. And with or without the virus your immune system needs to be in top form. My day starts with two glasses of lemon water and salt – and ends with hot milk and turmeric. Try them!

Bhutanese diet is not the best because the variety is simply not there. But what you eat not only determines your physical health it also affects your mental state. A study found that a diet rich in green vegetable, fruits, lean protein and whole grain helps reduce depressions and anxiety. And stay away from processed food because it suppresses your immune system. Amul cheese, Wai Wai, Koka, canned fish, etc are all processed food imported from as far as the US or Turkey. For those with poor digestive system because of gastritis, ulcer or acid reflux, drop these altogether. I am speaking from my own experience.

And then sleep like a baby. Sleep time is when your immune system is regenerated. It is fairly simple: If you sleep well, chances are that your system is good. If you are sleep deprived, you are down. A research experiment was done whereby live virus of common cold was splashed on a group of participants. Those who had rested well didn’t catch the virus even when they were exposed directly. Those who were not sleeping well, fell immediately ill.

Government response is everything

Countries and nations, and the world at large, will be challenged time and again. This is not the first time that we have faced this and it won’t be the last. And how the governments responds is the key to mitigating these challenges. We have the country’s most famous doctor at the helm of the government. I mean, won’t he know best? And, isn’t that even our own good fortune? Our collective moelam

And above all, we should not forget that we have our King who would do anything to keep us safe.

Keep living, sleep well and eat well, my dear countrymen.



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