The important difference between proactive and panic.
I am a single mom with three little kids and I work full time. The Government of Ontario just shut down schools and daycares for three weeks.
I can’t stop working. My kids are way too young to be unsupervised. We live in the city – so we have no backyard and a tiny house. Worse. Thing. Ever. Total over reaction, more mass hysteria only causing inconvenience for me and my family.
Except it’s not.
The “worst thing ever” would be to witness first hand the tragedy of what happened in Wuhan. Or Italy. Especially knowing that our government watched the same news I saw and failed to do anything about it.
I am SO GRATEFUL for the school shut down, the city closures, the event cancellations – each and every time I see something cancelled or closed around the world I applaud – because it means they are taking this threat seriously.
Yes, I know that 80% of people recover completely from this virus. I know that by the time this is over 60 – 70% of the world will have contracted it at some point. But I also know we are already facing at least three other epidemics around the world – obesity, tobacco, HIV/AIDS to start – and this has pushed our world class healthcare system to it’s limits.
The threat was never about the virus. The threat is the total collapse of global healthcare and its workers.
Hallway medicine is a very real thing here in Ontario. In February, before the first cases of COVID -19 started to come in, we reported an average of 13.8 Hours wait in ER’s across the province. Before the pandemic even hit.
In America, with a population of 300 million people – there are only 925,000 hospital beds
After the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, Ontario Health developed a pandemic plan. Our reality today is that it doesn’t matter if there’s a plan or not if we don’t have the resources to fulfill it.
Adding a pandemic on top of an already over capacity healthcare system has caused economic collapse, unprecedented government intervention on peoples lives, and the complete and tragic breakdown of one of the best health care systems in the world in Italy.
Scary stuff, right?
Well, yes – but also, no.
All you can ever do in life is make the best decision possible given the information you have available
We can’t go back in time.
All we can do is take a deep breath and deal with the situation at hand.
Yes, this suddenly casts the urgency of the obesity (etc) epidemic in a new light – but we can’t do anything about that right now.
This is why international scientific cooperation is so important. Our government knows everything I know (and more, hopefully), and they acted calmly and swiftly to prevent a worse case scenario happening. This is NOT hysteria. This is a calculated mitigation plan to keep a low impact on the healthcare system and it’s workers – and it’s based on objective facts.
THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING.
We, as humans, need to follow suit by following the example the Canadian government has set – going above and beyond wherever possible. But act accordingly. There’s a big difference between being proactive and panicking. Yes, do your part to flatten the curve wherever possible. But remember –
“Don’t Panic” – Douglas Adams
Tips on how to be proactive in your efforts to flatten the curve WITHOUT contributing to mass hysteria
PROACTIVE: Meal Plan, meal plan, meal plan! Chances are you will be stuck at home working for a few weeks – maybe with kids, maybe without kids.
Having meals prepped ahead of time or at least planned will make a big difference to your piece of mind and keep your stress down.
That’s a good thing. These are stressful times.
PANIC: Hoarding food. I can’t speak for sure about other regions around the food – but common sense says that if restaurants are closed, those suppliers have to send their food SOMEWHERE – the grocery stores will not be in short supply.
We will NOT have a food shortage in Ontario.
Ordering your groceries online will keep volume of humans in the stores low and help with social distancing.
PANIC: The TP thing? Seriously? I don’t get it. Enough. If you’re doing it for a joke – stop. There are people at risk (special needs, elderly) who can’t deal with the fact that the stores are empty of this basic supply. You are helping no one by hoarding it and hurting the most vulnerable in society.
PROACTIVE: Continue to eat fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Don’t start eating a bunch of non-perishable crap just because you feel like you need to. Eating a wide range of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables and a mix of different types of proteins will keep your immune system healthy and out of the hospital.
PROACTIVE: Stay home. Keep your kids home. No, not even a play date. No, not even the park. Even if your schools are still open, don’t send them. Don’t send your kids to daycare. Cancel the dinner party. Don’t take that trip out of town. Reality is that this is probably only a few weeks – lay low for a few weeks, occupy yourself at home, binge some stuff, reorganize your closets, paint your bathroom, do your taxes, find the remote control your 6 year old lost, whatever you can do to pass the time. It’s really not a big deal to just chill at home.
The more of us that stay home the faster this will get under control, the faster we can get back to normal.
Just do it.
PANIC: Isolating yourself. I mean like reeeeally isolating.
Humans are social creatures – we need each other – now more than ever.
If you’re at a gym under a professional coach you probably already have at home workouts, an active online community and someone to reach out to. If you don’t – there are SO MANY great online communities doing an incredible job right now keeping people healthy with the basics – mental health, community health, physical health, nutrition, sleep etc – not to mention up to date stuff on the COVID – 19 with real, objective support. Check out The Healthy Rebellion, The Whole Life Challenge, or free Corona Virus Challenge with The Six Pillars. If you want to look for a coach at a professional gym check out MadLab Group.
PROACTIVE: Work from home NOW. It’s likely before this is over your will be forced to work from home. Figuring out the logistics of it and actively doing this before it is forced on you will make a big difference flattening the curve AND keep your stress down. Make a plan and do it now while you still have the luxury to choose. If you need help figuring out logistics of online office work, check out zoom, slack, gdocs and the good old phone. I’ve been working almost exclusively online running an international business for 7 years. It’s NBD.
Entire companies run completely online everyday. Now is the time to get on board.
PANIC: Obsessing over the news. Yes, it’s spreading. Yes, it will continue to spread. All you can do is all you can do. Stay home. Stay clean. Stay safe. This too will pass.
PROACTIVE: Paying attention to the news. Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but that’s actually what news media is for.
Think critically and use the information to make informed decisions.
Canadian news, I’m proud to say, has been very balanced so far about this. American news outlets that are good are the Washington Post or the New York Times. Huffington Post and Buzz feed are personal favourites. Ignore the rest.
PROACTIVE: STAY. HEALTHY. Yes, it’s challenging to take a threat seriously and not freak out about it – but what other choice do we have? Eat well, sleep well, and yes, even get outside for some exercise and fresh air ALONE and keeping your distance from others. Stay in touch with your friends. Check up on the vulnerable people around you. Be a part of an online community. BUT DON’T PANIC.
It’s much easier to stay calm when you’re physically and mentally well.
Staying healthy will also keep you out of the hospital – Remember, that’s the goal.
Hopefully this helps. If you’re still not convinced at the urgency of this situation – stay home anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? If you’re still stressed out about it and panicking REACH OUT FOR HELP we need to be here for each other and think clearly. Take a deep breath.
Should we do something to shift the healthcare system towards prevention? Yep.
Is this a powerful reminder of the importance of scientific research and international cooperation for the greater good? Definitely.
Do you need more toiler paper? Probably not.
Right now, don’t worry about all that. Just get through the next couple weeks, then we can all save the world together.
EDIT: This has been a common question so I’m adding it in: If you have symptoms or have come in contact with someone with the virus, you probably don’t need to go to the hospital – most places around the world are recommending you self isolate for 14 days. Going to a hospital if you are not seriously ill will not help. Use mobile testing sites wherever possible. Check government websites for information before you go to the hospital.
There’s a beautiful tragic fallacy about a pandemic forcing the entire world to slow down, spend time at home with their families, and ride out the storm. Stay calm, embrace this for what it is, and if you’re still worried in a few weeks – do your part to change the healthcare system so this doesn’t happen again. Until then – DON’T PANIC and STAY HOME