The world health organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic on the 11th of March, 2020. Most of us are experiencing a pandemic for the first time in our lives. It came as an unplanned event in our ‘normal’ routine and marked the next couple of weeks as either a partial or complete ‘lockdown’ in our calendar. Many of us did not even know what we’d be doing during this period. Almost a month into the lockdown now, here is what the situation looks like: people are quarantined in homes and hospitals with a desperate eye on the news and global patient statistics while worrying for our loved ones across the globe. All over the world, people are now anxiously waiting for government announcements while incessantly disinfecting themselves, buying lifetime supplies of toilet paper and beating the competition in emptying supermarket shelves while wearing masks, of course. All of this has made us go through combinations of stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and depression. The sudden flood of these unprecedented emotions has perhaps led us to a rapid change in food habits and an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol.
The present scenario does, however, beg an important question; what exactly has made us so paranoid about this whole situation? While it is commonly believed that only the paranoid survive, many pandemics have taken place in history and none of them has succeeded in erasing humanity, as a whole, from Earth. Of course, many people died and others survived; genetic mutations happened over a while and our bodies have come to be immune to such infections. Darwinian evolutionary theory has explained natural selection in terms of the ‘survival of the fittest’. If we continue panicking during these challenging times, can we stay fit and survive?
Up until this point, medical health practitioners have reported death due to COVID-19 being most often encountered in people having low immunity, due to age, or already suffering from some other pre existing medical condition. Science has shown us that our state of mind affects our immunity. Feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and isolation lead to a depressed state of mind which, in turn, ultimately lowers our immunity and also affects our neuronal structure. The hippocampus, a brain structure embedded deep in the temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex, is responsible for motivation, emotion, learning, and memory, can be adversely affected by stress.
As the world faces this pandemic, it is extremely important as an individual to unlock our inner resilience so that we tackle the situation with the right attitude and come out stronger. It means we increase our ability to respond and deal with our life in the current lockdown and also after it is over. Nourishing our body and mind adequately is essential in building our immunity, thereby, increasing our resilience. According to Ayurveda, including foods such as turmeric, ginger, black pepper, etc. in our diet, daily, helps us boost immunity. Moreover, eating whole foods and grains keeps the body light and mind fresh.
Meditation is a great tool to increase self-awareness and bring resilience. Much research has been done all across the world, including Harvard Medical School, University of Wisconsin, etc., which underlines the benefits of meditation on our immune system. Meditating helps in boosting antibodies and T cells which are actively responsible for fighting against any bacteria, virus, or germ in our body. In this time of panic, practicing meditation not only gives us multiple health benefits but also creates a positive environment in our living spaces. So, it is the time to sit back, close our eyes, relax for a few minutes, take some deep breaths in and out, unwind our mind from the anxiety and unlock the power within ourselves.
Along with diet and meditation, creating new routines, having balanced sleep, engaging in some workout, and rekindling our relationships are only going to help in bringing out our resilience. It is extremely important to understand that it is normal to feel afraid and isolated during the lockdown, but it is also important to remember that we as humans can combat these challenges and rise again. Having faith in ourselves and keeping up the enthusiasm alive is all that we need. Coping with this situation will make us, the people we care about, and our community, grow stronger. After all, we are together in this.
Guest post by Jess Nagpal.
Jess Nagpal is a Yoga teacher, Wellness Coach, and a Plant-based Chef who left her Computer Science profession behind to follow her passion. She is passionate about exploring yogic sciences, scriptures, teaching others to follow a holistic lifestyle. She loves to explore and cook with plants, study their underlying medicinal properties and their effects on our health. After spending almost 8 years in Germany, Sweden, and Australia, she is currently in India working as a freelancer in yoga and wellness sector for The Art of Living Organization. Happy to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org