InternationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 19

Saving minds and bodies from the pandemic

The coronavirus has left behind terrorism in terms of deaths and panic in the world after it was detected before the commencement of 2020 while terrorism mostly remained the hallmark of the 21st century. The pandemic has come out of left field and left us blindsided. Surrounded by chaos, confusion and suspicion, Covid-19 emerges as an unsympathetic pandemic for the diversified world, outfitted with modernizations and sophistications.

Speculative, reactionary and non-vibrant response to Covid-19 enhances the psychological trauma manifolds. It is remarkable to note that about fifty to sixty million people die every year at an average of about four to six million per month from natural and other causes. The global estimates indicated between 290,000 and 650,000 influenza-associated deaths from respiratory causes alone in the 2017-2018 flu seasons. By comparison, on a global scale 0.233 million registered patients of Covid-19 died worldwide during the initial four months of the year 2020, at an average of about 58,000 per month, far minimal in comparison to the normal and influenza deaths. Yet, its psychological impact is devastative.

A statistical analysis of a single day victims is even more interesting. The BBC reported that April 8 was one of the worst days as the coronavirus in the USA recorded over 1,800 fatalities, world’s largest in a single day. But on a given day, globally 26,283 people die of cancer; 49,041 people die of cardiovascular diseases; 4,383 people die of diabetes. Meanwhile, suicide takes on average 2,191 lives daily. Mosquitoes take the lives of over 2,740 people, and humans kill an average of 1,287 fellow people every single day. But these figures may not suggest that we live without precautions to ward off the pandemic.

With about 2.6 billion people around the world in some kind of lockdowns, we are conducting arguably the largest psychological experiment ever. This will result in a secondary epidemic of burnouts and stress-related absenteeism evidently much more distressing than the physiological fatalities. Taking action now can mitigate the toxic effects of lockdowns to some extent. Otherwise the psychological wellbeing of populations at large in the post-Covid-19 scenario shall be an exigent task in Pakistan where society at large remains in a state of chaos.

Studies suggest that the coronavirus is less fatal for young people and its severity rises with age while it adversely affects the psychological makeup of humans. Therefore, in the UK, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have been raising awareness of mental health issues for years, have backed a new campaign by the Public Health England department to encourage people to take care of their minds as well as their bodies during the outbreak.

Distinct long and short-term measures must also be taken at both conceptual and functional levels in Pakistan, to address the issues of psychological wellbeing during and after Covid-19. The psychiatry should be available to the people on the concept of telemedicine at a single click. Objective infotainment-based psychological wellbeing programs be broadcast for all segments of the population; with program content focused on biochemistry of beliefs and conviction to strengthen the immunity and conviction of the population at large.

Beliefs are the guiding principles that provide direction and meaning in life whereas, conviction is a firm belief not based on personal opinion. Bruce Lipton, an American developmental biologist, has claimed that our beliefs control our biology rather than DNA and inheritance. Our beliefs become our reality. He focuses on mechanism underlying healing at cellular level. Each and every tiny cell in our body is perfectly and absolutely aware of our thoughts, feelings and of course, our beliefs. That is why once we believe we are strong and hard to break; the biochemistry of our body unquestionably obeys and manifests it.

A few simple steps may also help people stay calm and positive during lockdowns and quarantine periods. The availability of large time may be utilized for prayers, meditation and enhancement of spirituality. Worries and problems must be discussed with friends and family members during the difficult time by remaining connected through available means of communication to beat isolation and feel better. Productive activities, including writing, painting, art and entertainment activities of choice, may be undertaken to eliminate idleness, a source of weakening immunity. Intake of healthy and balanced diet, sufficient water, regular exercise and sound sleep are key factors for strong immunity and peace of mind. Appropriate management of media and information intake is of paramount importance; as round-the-clock news and constant social media updates adversely affect the psychological health of people, especially during a pandemic. The strategy may facilitate the harmonization of the soul and body.

Beliefs are often considered as convictions or as religious beliefs, but there are also philosophical beliefs relating to the sphere of daily life. Can we explore the biochemistry of our beliefs and strengthen our conviction to stand fast as a nation?