By Iksha Sinha
EQ - Emotional Quotient
IQ - Intelligence Quotient
Over the past one month, the Coronavirus disease has grown rapidly and has been declared as a Global Pandemic by WHO. In the past few weeks this pandemic has led to a crash in the stock market, has emptied the shelves of grocery stores due to unnecessary stockpiling, caused anxiety, led to the development of biases and xenophobia, all while costing people their lives.
Having started in late 2019, Coronavirus has turned into a global pandemic within 3 months, and is the first pandemic to occur in the era of Social Media. Millennials find it easy to laugh at memes circulated online about the mass hysteria related to the virus, but we forget that this deadly virus has taken away lives of loved ones.
A month ago I had taken a flight from Bangalore to Mumbai and roamed about the streets of Mumbai without surgical masks. Even till last week, I had zero interest and barely any opinion about the virus. But the “class” hysteria from my parents, and the people around me, gave rise to a surreal panic, fear and a constant need to be informed. So now, I am not only furiously washing my hands but also enjoying social distancing. I am not sure if buying litres of sanitizer and stockpiling masks will help cure the disease, but I’m confident that washing hands and keeping a good hygiene will help us control it.
Our fear will eventually evolve into suspicion, distrust and uncertainty about the environment we have trusted for so long. This often takes possession of our biases against specific groups of people. For instance, the AIDS epidemic was sometimes referred to as the “gay plague”. Similarly now, “Wuhan virus” has led to the xenophobia towards the Chinese. In a recent case from London, a Chinese couple was attacked, as the attackers believed that, “the Chinese started the coronavirus.”
During pandemics, the human psyche is in a flux. Things that we never feared and questions we never asked, now pose as a threat and a risk to us. During such situations, the feeling of cooperation and tolerance among individual is highly sensitive because beneath this fragile surface is the true selfishness - people fighting on one-to-one basis for sanitisers and toilet paper.
But we have to realise that we are in this together and have to work collectively as a community to overcome this disease. There are some examples of how this outbreak has bought people together. Recently a video of a Muslim couple in Scotland has been trending on social media platforms. The couple created Coronavirus relief packages for the elderly and those in need and delivered them around their village for free.
Pent up anxiety, fear, and stigma tires an individual, affecting their mental health. Now that we are self quarantining and social distancing, this gives rise to anxiety and tendency to overthink as loneliness lurks in the background. We need to take action to keep our fear and anxiety in check, protect ourselves from being overrun by it. Pick up tasks that bring you joy. I’ve been working on my drawing skills and catching up with Grey’s Anatomy. Being in isolation can be tough, but you can indulge in multiple activities to keep yourself occupied and stay connected with your loved ones. A great example of staying connected would be the Italians. Videos of quarantined Italians singing together from their balconies during the lockdown gave hope to the rest of the world.
We are all in this together. It is this compassion that’s gonna help us overcome the pandemic. This is just the beginning, and things might get worse. But we can fight it if we just listen to health professional who have years of experience and knowledge regarding communicable disease. Take care of others and yourselves, listen to your doctors and global health organizations. Look after your physical and mental health. And who in doubt, always trust Science.
Be sensible. Stay safe.