By: Zachary Merousis
One must question and understand how to maintain one’s mental and emotional health during the current epidemic. In 2007, Australia suffered through an epidemic caused by a highly infectious equine influenza. On account of this event, BMC Public Health conducted a survey with 2,760 participants to collect data on distress. According to the studies conducted, it was found that people living in highly infected zones and young people were most prone to psychological distress. Indeed, such data concludes that an epidemic on the scale of which we are facing today has caused global psychological distress, primarily for young people. These statistics raise questions as to what measures must be taken to implement changes. One’s emotional and mental health are as important as one’s social and physical health. To stay positive during Covid-19, people must maintain physical health, maintain a level of order, live gratefully, and live deliberately.
To stay positive during the current global epidemic, it is suggested that one must maintain physical health. Physical health affects not only the physical aspects of the body, such as strength, endurance, agility, and stamina, but physical health also helps to develop one’s mental and emotional health as well. According to proposed hypotheses by numerous medical professionals, shifts in mood are caused by exercise-induced blood circulation in the brain and an influence on the hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal axis. Consistent with this information, the functions of the brain are also in control of fear, motivation, and mood, which can affect someone’s psychological response to stressful situations. Thus, an increase in physical activity can lead to an improved mood. In addition, an increase in physical activity allows for an increase in self-esteem and cognitive function, which can in turn increase happiness during taxing circumstances. The alleviation of negative emotional responses during trying times allows for one’s increased happiness.
Physical health allows for an increase in happiness due to physically-induced changes, however, the maintenance of order in one’s life can in turn reduce stress and increase happiness during the current pandemic. Licensed therapist Kevin Moss states that fear and depression can cause someone to feel powerless. Hence, one must maintain control of his or her life as it allows one to restore one’s self of agency and self-confidence. Therefore, one must focus on the aspects of his or her life which one can control including, “daily and nightly routine, what you eat, and what you wear each day, how you speak to yourself, how you’ll pursue your beliefs and goals, and how you’ll respond under pressure”(Psychology Today). Undoubtedly, maintaining control of such aspects allows one to feel powerful, but also diverts one from the repercussions of the epidemic and gives one a sense of progression. During such trying times, people are discouraged and in turn less productive. Creating and sticking to a routine allows one to unconcern one’s self with the epidemic and instead focus on him or herself. The maintenance of order in one’s life allows for an increase in a sense of power, progression, and accomplishment.
While happiness is preserved during the epidemic through the maintenance of order and physical health, grateful living preserves happiness as well. To begin, David Steindl-Rast associates gratefulness with happiness. Indeed, Steindl-Rast states that everyone is given unique opportunities which one can either avail oneself of or miss. The key to happiness is to avail oneself of such opportunities. According to Steindl-Rast, “Opportunity is the gift within every gift, and we have this saying, opportunity knocks only once. Every moment is a new gift, over and over again, and if you miss the opportunity of this moment, another moment is given to us and another moment. We can avail ourselves of this opportunity, or we can miss it, and if we avail ourselves of this opportunity, it is the key to happiness”(Steindl-Rast, Ted Talk). With this in mind, the author states that in order to spot such opportunities, one must live gratefully, and to live gratefully one must ‘stop, look, and go’. This method is proposed by the speaker to emphasize the need to appreciate life. One must stop, appreciate all that the world has to offer, and use each circumstance as an opportunity or as a gift. When one is grateful, he or she appreciates and respects everything which has been granted, thus, this creates an environment of positivity regardless of the circumstances. Grateful living is a key aspect to being positive during the current pandemic.
One must also live deliberately during Covid-19 to stay positive. Thoreau asserts that one must not conform to societal norms and instead focus on the fulfillment of one’s goals. According to Thoreau, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them…If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away…”(Walden, 2.2). During Covid-19, it is a perfect time to disregard the opinions of others, and to instead focus on self-improvement. However, to self-improve one must dismiss materialism. Materialism does not give one lifetime fulfillment; however, it gives temporary accomplishment. During the pandemic, people must realize that in order to stay more positive, they must focus on self-improvement and neglect the unimportant aspects of their life. Instead of focusing on the loss of superfluous items, people must focus on their health and their family’s health.