“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror that paralyzes…” Franklin D. Roosevelt
What have you heard?
I wanted to get this out to you quickly as it contains a different message than most about COVID-19.
It’s a little longer but worth it. I promise.
So please read or at least skim to the end. (And be sure to catch the video you’ll find there.)
Your body’s always listening
With all that’s going on around us, how does it make you feel? Sad, stressed, fearful, overwhelmed, anxious, worried, confused, panicked?
Here’s a secret most don’t even know about…
Every feeling you have. Every thought… Every emotion… triggers the release of chemical “messengers” that surge through your body affecting every system within you.
Your thoughts and feelings literally change the chemistry of your body, your immune system, and – ultimately – your health.
They can make you sick. They can heal you. They affect the efficiency of your metabolism, your immune system, your digestion, your cognitive function and even your vulnerability to a cold or virus.
This is the science of “psychoneuroimmunology”. First uncovered by Dr. Candace Pert in the ’70s and quickly dismissed by her colleagues in the medical and scientific community who considered her work downright crazy.
Today science is reconsidering her message and beginning to understand how deeply the mind and body are connected.
Pert’s research and discovery “…ultimately united immunology, endocrinology, neurophysiology, psychology, and biology into a cohesive theory about how our thoughts and emotions are capable of creating wellness or disease in our bodies.”
Using Pert’s research as a foundation, we now have a new scientific
understanding of the power of our minds and our feelings to directly and
profoundly affect our health and well-being.
Our emotions, Dr. Pert explains, are not simply chemicals in the brain. They are electrochemical signals that carry emotional messages throughout the body. These signals have far-reaching effects and literally change the chemistry of every cell in your body – and send out vibrations to other people.
Fear is a profoundly powerful emotion
The lesson here is simple but it’s not an easy one.
Fear and panic disrupt your entire body, trashing your immune system and also shutting down the intelligent part of your brain.
Moreover, the fear that you feel gets transmitted to others. And in a world as technologically connected as ours, it can take us all down.
So while everyone is frantically looking for ways to boost the immune system, perhaps we’re ignoring the most important influence of our immune health: our emotions and how we think about what’s going on around us.
In Pert’s words: “…the state of our emotions will affect whether or not we will succumb to viral infection.” (Molecules of Emotion, Candace B. Pert, Ph.D.)
We can’t always carry around a bright sunny disposition. Just isn’t normal. But we can stop long enough to check in with the facts before diving into fear and do what the experts call – reframing.
Reframing is a way of moving from fear and “OMG! OMG! Am I gonna live?”, to “What’s really happening here?”
It’s the process of shifting our focus and examining a problem or situation from a different perspective.
Reframing, in essence, converts problems to challenges and opportunities – and perhaps makes us aware of the reality that just about every bad situation comes with important lessons. And sometimes even unexpected gifts – if we’re paying attention.
The Facts as we know them…
- COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and it looks and acts a lot like the flu we experience yearly.
- Perhaps the most important thing to know is that “The majority of people who come down with this new coronavirus do recover…”, and thus are likely immune to coming down with it again.”
- We’ve previously experienced two other coronaviruses – SARS in 2002, and MERS in 2012. We survived them both.
- As reported by the CDC, COVID-19 “…is characterized by mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever.” The illness can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.”
- It takes about 5-6 days from exposure to the development of symptoms, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Other experts believe the incubation period can be as long as 14 days.
- Those at greatest risk are the elderly and people with “chronic medical conditions” like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and lung disease.
- Children do not appear to be at higher risk and if they do contract it, generally have mild symptoms.
- On the “RO” (Pronounced “R-Naught”) Scale, a calculation epidemiologists use to measure the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak (specifically, the number of cases an infected person will cause), COVID-19 sits about in the range of the seasonal flu with a slightly higher infection potential.
- It’s being experienced worldwide. (That’s the definition of “pandemic” and a rather expected consequence considering how many of us travel worldwide).
- It’s spread through droplets in the air that we either breathe in or pick up from surfaces that those infected have coughed or breathed on.
- It’s not the end of the world. It’s a virus – just a new one.
- Individuals are contagious before any symptoms show up.
- You don’t need toilet paper to combat it. Possibly tissues. (I don’t know anyone who’s figured that one out. Chalk it up to brains that don’t work so well when in panic.)
- We’re limiting public gatherings so as to keep it from spreading quickly and overwhelming our healthcare system. (And it’s delivering some hard lessons about how important it is to not outsource to other countries most of our medical supplies and drugs.)
- Our immune systems are perfectly and naturally designed to fight off viral diseases like COVID-19
If you stayed with me through all of that, it was meant to shift or reframe your thoughts through education and learning the facts – rather than relying on the rumor mill or the normal news channels that most often sensationalize.
What’s in it for us?
Is COVID-19 possibly a wakeup call for all of us to look at the state of our health? We all know that those who keep themselves in better health generally do better in situations like this.
Perhaps this might inspire us to get stronger and build up our health.
This is not to imply that getting a virus is a good thing, but just stating the obvious… that we have before and will most likely continue to experience viruses and sickness and we’ll have to deal with them all. Hopefully with greater knowledge and a stronger body.
Emotions and immunity inextricably linked.
Reframing your thinking from a doomsday mentality to one of curiosity, creativity, and gratitude (that this too will pass) has an immediate and positive impact on your body.
It shifts you to a more grounded and self-nurturing place, keeps you out of the negative muck and helps to strengthen both you and your immune system – a great start for keeping COVID-19 at bay.
We are all connected
Maybe the greatest lesson we can take from this is how deeply connected we are.
Despite our differences, disagreements, different colors, and beliefs, we’re together in this. Perhaps a hurt this frightening and deep will bring us closer. That would be a good thing in a world that often feels severed and disconnected.
Sending much love and healing to you and your families! ♥
PS – The Italian population – in all their amazing creativity, has come up with a novel way to deal with the virus. Here’s a video for a little different type of reframing. Love our Italian neighbors!
PPS – We’ve all inundated with unsolicited emails from who knows who, sensational news from the typical media channels that will stop at nothing to garner our attention, and the regular rumor mill. A suggestion… go to knowledgeable, scientific sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 Resource Center, Harvard Coronavirus Research Center. Take everything else with a grain of salt.