We are rebranding “Healthy at Home” – quarantine rules are no longer so strict that we are always at home, but that is not to say that the pandemic has ended. It is especially important at this stage of the crisis to understand what it is we must do to hasten the recovery of our society and our lives.
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” -Albert Einstein
The stages of a pandemic
Taiwan’s equivalent of the CDC published a rundown of what should happen when a novel virus strikes; there ought to be 3 stages to the pandemic. First comes panic – we may remember how many people were acting in Feb-April. Then comes learning, the stage we are arguably still grappling with. Finally, comes growth – this does not necessarily need to occur after learning, and there are many opportunities to learn and to grow from this crisis.
The first phase of the pandemic is marked by:
Overstocking of medical equipment (and in this case toilet paper)
Widespread anger and resistance to lockdown, frequent complaints
Sharing new information indiscriminately and without fact-checking
This stage is largely over, thankfully. After coming to understand the true nature of the virus, the panic has subsided, and we have developed countermeasures to ensure that people can safely acquire the medical equipment (and toilet paper) they need. These countermeasures, like face masks and social distancing, are important to keep in place until the virus is under control (and we are not quite there yet).
Additionally, it is particularly important to check your sources when sharing information – the tidal wave of new information cost many lives at the beginning of the pandemic, when people were desperate for answers and a cure.
The second phase of the pandemic is marked by:
-Understanding the reality of the situation and how to manage it
-Fact checking, not sharing fake news
-Accepting what we cannot control
-Recognizing one’s emotions and being aware that people are trying their best
This stage may last a good while, as there is always a lot to learn in new and uncomfortable situations. Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that false information is easy to spread and can have serious and harmful consequences. Therefore, fact-checking is more important now than ever (it is important in many other domains as well, but that could be a newsletter all its own).
Furthermore, it is helpful to one’s own psyche to understand the difference between what we can and cannot control. For instance, we cannot control whether other people choose to wear masks, but we can distance ourselves from them, wear masks ourselves, and we can allow business employees to help us keep them out of stores and grocery shops. We cannot force them to wear masks, but we can spread good information on why and how wearing masks helps and forgive them for their ignorance and stubbornness.
The third and most important stage of the pandemic is marked by:
-Contributing and helping others to the best of your ability
-Enhancing empathy, appreciating others
-Live for joy in the moment, and advocate for hope in the future
-Renew your intentions and relationships
-Cultivate creativity and resilience
A growth mindset is what will define those who come out of this pandemic stronger from those who do not. In fact, a growth mindset is crucial in any situation, not just during a pandemic. It is this understanding that each difficulty and each failure is an opportunity to become better and stronger that transforms hardship into hardiness.
Take this time to give to others when you can, to expand the limits of your empathy. Do little things that make you happy to recharge your batteries. Refocus your goals and reconnect with your loved ones. Try something new with someone you love and find new limits.
When we can do all these things, it is then that we will have discovered the “I” in pandemic.