IF You are Paralyzed by Fear, Then You are Missing a Wonderful Opportunity.
The COVID-19 has forced us to look face to face with our fears. I have been getting numerous messages from my patients, friends and family members about how they are fearful and stressed about the current state of affairs.
I am a general surgeon and a lifestyle medicine doctor. I work on the frontline taking care of sick patients coming through the emergency room. I have a decent understanding of how the best healthcare systems in the world are collapsing because of the rapid spread of coronavirus.
I felt compelled to share about how I exercise my choice of Freedom Over Fear during this critical time.
Let us look at “fear” closely. What is the purpose of it? What does it do to us? And how can we transform it?
The purpose of fear or anxiety is to point us in the right direction so that we take the necessary steps to do what is safe and to protect ourselves and loved ones. That’s it!
Imagine you have never touched fire before, and you happen to touch it for the first time. What happens? You feel pain. Then the next time you see the fire, you have a little bit of fear. That little bit of fear ensures safety. If you think of the fire and the thought of the fire itself paralyzes you, thinking that it’s going to come to you, swallow you, burn you, then you are not putting the fear in the right perspective. If you are paralyzed with fear, then you tend to do stupid things. On the other hand, if you shun the fear, and say you are invincible, then you might make different sorts of stupid choices.
Finding the balance is the key!
It’s okay to have a little bit of fear. Having a little bit of fear or anxiety can be helpful as it keeps you alert to safeguard yourself and propels you to make the right choices.
Putting Fear and Anxiety in the Right Perspective is the Need of the Hour!
With the current COVID-19 situation, it’s okay to be afraid that you might get infected, or your loved ones might get the virus. It’s okay to have that fear, but here are the essential questions to ask – what are you doing with that fear? Are you channelling the fear to do what’s needed or you freezing with it? Are you focusing on things you can control, or are you wasting your time on things you can’t control? Even in the current situation, there are lots of things we can control. We can control the possibility of exposure to the virus by staying home and maintaining physical distancing. We can control personal hygiene by washing our hands to decrease our chances of getting the infection. We can optimize our health by eating foods that boost our immunity and staying away from foods that cause inflammation. Plant-based way of eating centred on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices boosts our immune system and optimizes health.
We can further boost our immune system by managing our stress.
Did you know that fear and stress out of proportion can work against you?
The brain senses the thought of fear as a threat. When the mind goes into the mode of danger, then there is an increased release of a stress hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol, in optimal doses, has many useful functions in the body. But with unregulated and chronic fear and stress, our brain releases the excess Cortisol, which has many adverse effects on our health, including the suppression of our immune system.
So, what do we do with this fear?
Fear is a sign that something is not right, and we need to channel this fear into what it is in our control rather than what we can’t control. Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty right now, and we don’t know exactly how it will be a month from now or six months from now; uncertainty is there. This may not be the best time to come up with a 5 year plan. This is the time to focus on survival and living in the present NOW. This is the time to maximize self-care. This is the time to focus on protecting ourselves and our loved ones and taking care of each other. This is the time to give our attention to what matters the most for us and take one day at a time. This pandemic will pass, and the sooner all of us collectively do what is needed for each other, the sooner it will pass. Let’s channel our emotions and thoughts into taking care of ourselves and put our attention on what is in our control rather than what is not in our control.
THAT’S WHERE OUR FREEDOM IS.
Wishing you the best of Health and Happiness,
Dr. Arjun Rayapudi
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