Pandemic SOS! A Stoic’s Handbook of Survival.

Corona Pandemic
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A month and a half of staying at home, I have started all my mornings on the same negative undertone.

I wake up, reach for my cell phone, and scroll away at the latest Corona News wondering with an undertone of “What now!”. Life, as we know it, has changed and a new normal has sunk in. The onset of disassociation is unsettling especially when you were forced to hit sudden breaks on your normal routine and adapt to this macro change. 

People these days talk about Corona like it’s the end of the world. It is natural to feel anxious about the financial & economic uncertainties that lay ahead, but constant is constructed News can offset your mental health.

In the US alone, subscriptions for Meditation apps have gone up and people are looking for mental refuge in times like these. Companies like Headspace have offered free subscriptions to the Coronavirus front-liners to help them build a positive mindset and habits. Personally, I too see my friends indulging in Zen doodles or cooking to calm themselves.

Our fears and anxieties come from our inability of possessing control over this current situation. But then ‘Control’ comes with a broad spectrum of arbitrariness – We don’t fear the virus as much as we fear human unpredictability and irrationalities in times like this.

What do I control and how can I take charge – A stoic approach during the Corona pandemic

I am a huge believer in Stoicism. For years I practiced this to overcome severe anxiety issues. On a basic level ‘being stoic’ means ‘being present’ and a fundamental dissociation with things that are beyond your control.

Stoicism teaches you the art of letting go which seems like an important mindset to develop during this distressing time. The realization of what aspects of your life you can control and what you cannot bring a shift in a tectonic shift in attitude. A lot of clutter in your mind ceases to exist and help discover inner peace.

This philosophy was extensively practiced in ancient Greece and Rome for more than thousands of years. The fundamental crux of stoicism is to develop an alternate and detached perception of things and focus on bringing internal changes rather than seeking external stimuli. Stoicism also prepares your mind to objectively stay neutral to the external chaos, suffering, and uncertainty by not developing a victim’s mindset to the external forces, but by acceptance of it all.

Another very interesting aspect of stoicism is also detachment to the materialistic desires of the human mind. The philosophy often suggests to occasionally stripe off from the things one ordinarily depends on for comfort in order to come on to the other side stronger and prove to themselves that they can indeed survive without the things they believe they needed. The current pandemic also sets the stage for such an approach.

On a personal level, my perception of absolute necessities in my life is just ‘hooks’ that I needed to unhinge. It is an immense pleasure to live a simple life with good health and an abundance of time to spend with family & on various internal pursuits. My level of gratitude has increased two folds causing most negative forces to bounce off me and help me derive joy from internalization and pursuits.

Stoicism and going forth

We are a tiny strand in the cosmic play of nature and everything that happens to us is of necessity and relevance that ensures change and evolution. In negative situations such as the current Corona Virus pandemic, we must develop indifference and acceptance but at the same time controlling our reactions to things that happen to us. Stoicism also suggests we practice honesty, humility, and gratitude in existence – a tiny chapter in the history of time that belongs to you.

Stoicism is not an easy practice. The human mind naturally succumbs to various distressing stimuli and negative impacts happening across the world. But the good news is we can at least try! Here are some aspects that you can take action on and certain aspects that are beyond one’s control.

What can I control?

  1. Staying safe and maintaining good hygiene
  2. Washing your hands and face regularly and using of face masks, until it becomes a cultivated habit
  3. Maintaining physical distance
  4. Avoiding handshakes and close contact. You can and are allowed to tell off strangers who do not maintain distance with you
  5. Staying at home. Although this can be tough, these are also not normal times
  6. If you are sick, taking necessary steps and seeking medical help or isolating yourself is a good idea.
  7. Choosing not to visit your loved ones for a while, in order to ensure their safety
  8. Planning what you want to do with time spent at home. Pick up a new hobby or learn something new. Get into creative ways of being fit and eat good homemade food. You are also entitled to just laze around and enjoy this much-needed rest before jump back into the hustle
  9. Selective use of Social Media and shutting out the negative noise 
  10. Re-evaluate all your finances and making long-term plans for wealth creation including rainy-day-funds for any future events such as these

What can I NOT control?

  1. Uncertainty in the nations finance and economic stability
  2. People, you know who may get infected
  3. Future travel plans and which country you may or may not be allowed to travel
  4. Your job, pay scale and your company’s ability to survive this slump
  5. Access to good medical facility depending on how burdened the healthcare system of your country is
  6. Government’s action or inaction to mitigate this disaster
  7. Biological mutations in the genetic make-up of the virus
  8. Timeline for developing a vaccine for Co-Vid 19
  9. Culture of paranoia and general hate perpetuated by Social Media mongers
  10. Onset of more natural disasters or act of terrorism

There are very simple and straightforward steps to follow during this pandemic. But often, simple and straightforward are hard to follow. But Stoicism has the ability to focus on things that matter and attain a certain sense of discipline. Although indirectly, this is a byproduct of it all, it helps conquer the invisible enemy that has brought the world to a screeching halt.

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