Comic by Andy Marlette shared in the The News Journal, in light of the call for social distancing

It is no stretch to say that we live in tumultuous times. It is easy to be swept up in the conversations of today that are saturated with unrest and rapt with unknowing. In a day where there is growing fear and increasing concern about social, economic, environmental and medical issues there are few ways to escape the vibrations of group think. These echoing messages are built upon both fact and fiction. Even where there is truth, we must remember that truth evokes opinions and emotions – this is where our inner feedback and behavioral responses take a turn. This turn is sometimes for the best and sometimes not. It is here that we are best advised to peek out from behind our emotional screen and look to the facts so that we can make objective, well-informed decisions.

A few steps to guide your way:

Lean toward what is instinctual but be smart. Be calculating: Above all, as a race we are designed to survive. So, let’s do that and let’s do that well. If you look to the greatest strategists for how to live as normally as possible during a health crisis that calls for the redirection of schedules and behaviors, they would tell you to take your information, create an action plan, consider the implications and benefits, maintain balance, chart a course supported by sound beliefs and actions and act accordingly.

Understand and find control: Self-directing, (literally directing yourself) is best guided by knowing where and why you are going somewhere. With the corona virus in mind: I am going to the market and will wear gloves while shopping. I will not go into a crowded environment.  I will wear a mask. I will stay home. Why would you make these decisions? Are they based upon fear or fact? Fear has its place as it keeps us protected. Fact gives us the information needed to make solid, effective decisions. There is also something bigger happening, we are naturally creating a unified approach to decreasing the opportunity for the virus, and other communicable medical issues, to spread. Unified informed decisions = true control.

Be a team player: The majority of the actions, recommended by the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and government are primarily about prevention. In a day where the world is fighting against something that they don’t totally understand, we are called together to create a solution. There is power in numbers. Whether you live in Italy and create heart-warming unity while singing together with others from your balconies or embrace and extend gratitude in Spain while clapping your hands in a thunderous roar of thanks for health care workers, or you are working hard to stay ahead of the curve in America by minimizing your time in public or spending endless hours researching in the lab, you have become a part of the local and global team. Teams work best when they are well coordinated and understand the goal and strategy to get there.

Emotion is almost as good as fact: Almost is the key word. Emotions can cause positive and negative circumstances. When we feel good (which includes feeling good about our concerns) our emotions drive us to do things that make us feel better, such as doing things for others. Emotions can also get the best of us, where we become lured and trapped, as we are guided by our (often fear filled) knee jerk reactions. It is always smart to check in with ourselves as increased emotions, good or bad, often amplify our reactions and may inadvertently dismiss the bigger picture. Like to shop? Did you buy a ton of toilet paper and latex gloves? Or did you buy extra but leave some for others? Are you the passionate type who loves to post on social media? Are your posts informative and supportive or have they become intense and authoritative? Glued to the news, are frustrations at home building as you speak back to our televised leaders or are you, your family members and community using the information to create supportive and deliberate plans to #GetAheadAndSlowTheSpread. All of these behaviors (as examples) play a role in how life will go. As a team, we need to keep the goal in sight and be concerned with balance so that we can do our best and reap the rewards. Bottom line: Don’t panic. Stay informed. Make decisive and deliberate decisions. Find and exercise balance.

Reduce Your Stress: The last decade or so has be inundated with messages of the need for self-care and stress reduction. This is not the time to throw that out of the window. Even if you are self-quarantined, take a few minutes to meditate, pray, groom your plants, and/or rearrange that thing in the closet that has been on your mind. Even if you are sick you can take a moment to think of things that brings you joy – like great memories and the people or circumstances involved. Your brain is working just as it was before the virus, so it responds well to the thoughts and feelings of accomplishment and joy.  In turn, your body reacts positively. Strengthening your body and mind is very important at this time. The great news is that it does not take a lot to do this. It simply takes deliberate thinking. If you are healthy and everything but the virus is going well, you can add to the best of circumstances by doing something that makes you and others feel good. All of that good, all of this prevention, all of our research and unyielding efforts to bring this unhealthy situation to its knees is the making of a smart, strong, unified, healthy world and a better us.