Looking at the current scenario created by the coronavirus pandemic, people are worried and confused about the future despite efforts of the authorities to keep them safe. You might be waking up every day with apprehensions, wondering how long would this nightmare continue. You read about deaths due to COVID-19 across the world, and also hear with deep sorrow the demise of loved ones, even as the wait for a vaccine to check the infection continues.
By now, everyone knows the ways to keep the virus at bay. As a community, we have been following official instructions on social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks. After measures like lockdowns came the reopening phase, which is of course not without curbs. But unfortunately, like in other parts of the world, stress and confusion have not reduced.
This challenging time reminds us that those who have life-threatening illnesses have to be more cautious. Think of the plight of those who have been admitted to the intensive care units with COVID-19 and its complications it could have on them. Despite all the inconveniences caused by the regulations, we need to adjust ourselves and try to cope with the new situation.
What I am trying to say is that even as we fight the pandemic, we need to accept uncertainty as part of our life and cope with it. Instead of complaining about the uncertainty and anxiety, it is better to learn some strategies to remove those feelings which may come to you from time to time.
Of course, the fear of getting infected or the chances of fatality could cause tensions. Nevertheless, in such situations your psychologist can help you with some strategies like breathing exercises (breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds) to calm yourself down.
You may think that if you knew when the vaccine would be available, you could plan for the future. However, for me it is better to have hope to tide over this gloom. Importantly, what is required now is to move away from negativity with every possible avenue. To defeat coronavirus, fill the mind with positive thoughts, which can raise the level of body energy and immunity.
Interestingly, the pandemic has also shown in many ways how hope and optimism can appear in dark times and how in some cases this can become a force for social change. Still optimism should not be confused with naive phrases such as everything will be fine. Indeed, this naive optimism can paradoxically lead people to accept the world as it is and to rule out an alternative, rather than to change for the better.
When things are very difficult and scary and the outcome is generally not good, hope sometimes lies in the unknown. I think mysterious and unexpected – abrupt and shocking -- are where there is a slot or a door for a hope. We need hope for ending of such a pandemic, and I believe that in this context uncertainty can be possibility.
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org