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Perspective in the Panic 

March 13, 2020 | by sheri mitchell

Billings resident Sheri Mitchell weighs in with some timely insight for the current state we are in. 

Right now, in March of 2020, Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is all things all the time. Open Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and there it is. Listen to news in any capacity and there it is. Go to the grocery store and the evidence of people’s concern over this virus is seen in the emptiness of the shelves. Sporting events and concerts cancelled. Amusement parks and theaters closed. Schools and universities moving to online classes or announcing closures for the next few weeks.

“Lions and tigers and bears...Oh, MY!”

How do we protect ourselves and our families without giving in to panic? How do we respond to this "crisis" without going crazy? How do we "prepare" without ending up with 8 months worth of toilet paper and 90 pallets of bottled water?

First, protect your mind. There is a LOT of information floating around about this virus and its potential impact. Pay attention to, and investigate, your sources. There are three types of information swirling about right now...fact-based, opinion-based and fear-based. Only one of those, fact-based, will help you make wise, calm, helpful choices on how to protect yourself and your family. Talk to truly knowledgeable people, like your own doctor, to find out facts about this virus and how to best protect yourself.

Second, practice common sense hygiene. There is a reason that "wash your hands" has been pushed into the forefront of how to combat this virus. It’s what EVERY health professional will tell you to do to combat ANY virus because it IS the first line of defense. No, it won’t prevent EVERY illness, but it CAN and DOES help reduce the spread of many illnesses. Start there. Wash your hands.

You can also help get rid of germs by washing things that are typically touched by the mouth...water bottles, pacifiers, baby toys, sippy cups, toothbrushes, etc. Either run them through a dishwasher or put them in a sink with hot water and bleach. Also wipe down, with a sanitizing wipe or a washcloth with hot, soapy water or bleach, all surfaces you touch regularly...remotes, light switches, keys, steering wheels, door handles, computers, phones, toilet handles and seats, faucets, stroller handles, etc. The virus has been said to live up to 3 days on surfaces, so wipe those surfaces off regularly. You don’t have to be obsessive, simply vigilant and aware.

Don’t share cups or eating utensils with anyone. Tell your children not to share those things, as well. Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and then use hand sanitizer or wash your hands. If it involves your mouth or nose, cover it. If it touches your mouth or nose, clean it, and that includes your hands. Of course, we are to avoid touching our faces, as much as possible, but if you are washing your hands, or using hand sanitizer after touching things, you don’t have to be so afraid if you happen to touch your face.

Third, build up your immunity. Good nutrition goes a long way toward giving your body what it needs to help you STAY healthy and fight sickness. Incorporate into your dietlots of leafy, green veggies, plenty of water and hot tea, local honey, quality essential oils and supplements, Vitamin C, and herbs can help increase your body’s ability to fight against illness. Avoid overeating fast food, fried food, high sugar and carbs. Those things tend to deplete your body rather than give your body the ability to fight sickness. Get plenty of rest and exercise regularly. These are all tips that nutritionists and doctors would give normally. They are good to put into practice regardless of what toxins and viruses are floating around in our world. Help your body have a chance to fight all sickness by practicing good diet on a regular basis.

Fourth, say no to fear. Uncontrolled fear is NOT going to help you make calm, rational, beneficial choices for protecting yourself or your family! Yes, the idea of a pandemic IS fearful BUT it does NOT need to control your every thought or life! If you believe in God, practice praying when you start to feel afraid. One of my favorite prayers to repeat when I start to feel anxious or afraid is, “God, I give everything and everyone to You.” I know that I ultimately cannot control this virus or whom it affects, so I practice praying when I start to feel afraid.

Stress contributes to our bodies being susceptible to sickness, so don’t let fear make you stressed-out. When fear comes knocking, don’t answer the door! Focus on what you do know to be good, right, true, beautiful, happy, and life-giving. Take stock of the TRUTH of your life RIGHT now. Are your kids healthy? Are you healthy? Do you have what you need at this moment? What is good in your life right now? What gives you peace? What makes you laugh? Where can you find some delight and joy today? What books are you reading? What music makes you want to dance? Practice gratitude and find peace-giving activities to help you relax and not feel anxious. Focus more time and energy on what is good in your life, rather than on ALL the things you can be afraid of right now.

Fifth, don’t panic and start hoarding basic necessities! Be prepared and have some stock, but don’t panic and buy so much toilet paper, hand sanitizer and bottled water that no one else gets ANY! Check on your neighbors. Make sure they have what they need, as well. If you know any single parents, check and make sure they have essentials. Take care of others during this situation. Practice the Golden Rule and love your neighbor the way you are loving yourself. IF things really do go badly in this world, you are going to NEED others to survive, so treat them with the same kindness and love you would want from others in that time. Together we are stronger. “A chord with three strands is not easily broken.”

Sixth, if you show ANY signs of sickness, the CDC and local hospitals are recommending you call your doctor or the hospital before going in.

Please see CDC.gov for complete and up-to-date information.

We do not need to panic right now. Check your information and make sure it is based on actual facts. Make informed decisions based on good information. Practice good hygiene. Start building your immune system through good nutrition and exercise. Don’t give in to fear. Practice the Golden Rule. Putting these into practice now, and continuing to practice them when this is over, will help us ALL lead healthier, calmer, happier, wiser, better lives now and in the future.

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