Any phenomenon or a disease that assumes pandemic proportions generates huge levels of fear affecting every resident of our planet. Ironically, its microscopic dimensions, invisibility and parasitical character makes it extremely dangerous. It draws its destructive power from the host it infects, multiplies, and in a short period of time damages several of the host's vital organs by reducing the supply of oxygen. If the affected person is weak, old or suffers from other physical morbidities, its impact becomes more severe.
It is obvious that the most dominant emotion or a factor that has gripped the entire mankind in the current situation is FEAR. It has become all pervading. Those that have been infected by it are suffering physically and undergoing traumatic emotional experience. Many have given up the fight and have succumbed. Others are living in fear of a kind that is rarely experienced with such large coverage of humanity in numbers, and its geographical spread.
All human beings are scared, and all non-humans are confused. Fundamentally, the cause of the fear is the potential infection from the Virus, but we are now scared of everything, every object-animate or inanimate. We are scared of each other and would like to maintain a respectable/or not too respectable a distance from each other. Our own survival (every individual's) has assumed the highest priority to the exclusion of everyone else. It is not as if we are not concerned, or anxious about the safety of our near and dear ones. Yes, indeed we are, but fear effectively blurs our vision and very adversely damages our cognitive and emotional faculties. Fear does much more than just that. It creates panic and panic-stricken person's body reaction causes multiple and collateral damage. Fear generates anxiety for the safety of self and others. Anxiety often assumes a chronic character and leads to a state of habitual stress and depression.
It is important to understand that fear like all other negative and indeed, positive emotions is a biological phenomenon. It triggers a chemical reaction in the body in the form of hormonal secretions that hugely impact our state of immunity. Now the standard definition of immunity is the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.
A prolonged state of fear, anxiety and stress leads to production of cortisol and its elevated levels causes increased stress, saps energy and interferes with the body's inherent capacity to heal. In addition, it can trigger mental health issues like mood swings, anxiety and depression. Reduction in the level can commence if we are able to shift the body from stress response to the relaxation response. A prolonged phase of stress can also lead to an asthmatic condition, triggering shortness of breath or breathing difficulties.
It is extremely important to understand that the strongest means we have in our systems to fight the scourge of this virus, is to strengthen our immune system and keep our respiratory tract clear of any blocks or inflammatory tendencies.
In other words, fear has to be banished from our system. It may perhaps not be possible in all situations to do that. The next best recourse that we have is to manage it and minimize its impact. There is no standard procedure that can be recommended because each person would exhibit distinct response to a situation or an event that generates fear. However, apart from consciously staying away from the catchment of the threat posed by that phenomenon, we need to quickly take control of ourselves in body and mind. Every situation requires us to think first and then act. Fear usually reverses the process. It is therefore essential to take control of our physiological responses to any situation that poses danger.
The best thing to take control is to learn to breathe, breathe deeply. Practice deep, even controlled breathing in the normal course when there is no imminent danger. You will be fully prepared to do so when faced a situation that can cause potential danger. Slow, even and consciously regulated breathing slows down the heart rate, keeps emotional arousal in check and makes you feel that you are in control of the situation. Set up adequate time for meditation, reflection and deep observation. These will help build your confidence.
Any kind of fear makes us lose the battle against any adversity well before it has hit us. We need to fight it with all the resources at our command, with prevention, restraint and confidence. In our preparation, fear should have no place.
Written By – Vinod Malhotra
Director – Corporate Relations, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group