Overcoming the Pandemic Crisis 

Photo Credits: EPA

B L Razdan

EVEN as much as we may wear masks, wash our hands repeatedly, maintain social distancing, boost our immunity and may even get vaccinated, as human beings we need the oxygen of hope to survive. At no cost should we give up because we have a reason to keep on living.

The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a global leader in this area, recently released its estimates that put the global toll of Covid-19 deaths by May 3, 2021 at 6.93 million, a figure that is more than two times higher than the reported number of deaths of 3.24 million. India accounted for about 10% of them at 6,54, 395 (only second to the United States with an estimated death toll of 0.9 million) which is about three times higher than the reported official figure.

As well as being a profound crisis of public health, the pandemic has also caused devastating impact on economies, and is said to have increased the global population of those living in extreme poverty by an estimated 500 million people. It has been 30 years since poverty rose so sharply on such a vast scale. Our heart goes out to the numerous families who were doing well but have suddenly been plunged into financial distress due to the coronavirus crisis.

When things go as planned, we feel comfortable. But when life throws a curveball, it creates anxiety and stress. The current Covid-19 pandemic has pulled the carpet underneath our feet. It has increased uncertainty over the economy, employment, finances, relationships, and, of course, physical and mental health. Yet as human beings, we crave security. Fear and diffidence make us powerless and drain us emotionally.  The failure to plan and prepare for multiple waves of Covid-19 pandemic has resulted globally in the despair and helplessness we are seeing today. In India’s case these have been all the more accentuated because of the problems peculiar to it including the huge population. Since more waves are expected, it is imperative that we draw appropriate lessons in order to plan for the long term.

Many people can tolerate some levels of uncertainty in life. Some enjoy taking risks. Others get overwhelmed by the unpredictability of life. No matter how bad the situation may be, there are steps we can take to better equip ourselves to face the unknown with courage.

While we have no control over the world, we have absolute control over our thoughts, feelings and actions. We can face the situation with resilience, optimism and confidence or we can meekly surrender to negativity, pessimism and fear. Humanity possesses the ability to transform this crisis into a catalyst for creating positive value for all. The renowned historian Arnold J Toynbee held truly deep feelings towards India, great land of the spirit. He famously asserted that both civilizations and individuals can create tremendous value when they respond to and overcome the challenges that confront them. As grave as this crisis is, there is no doubt we can overcome it if we summon up and share our inherent boundless wisdom, creativity and power. When we do so, the dignity of our lives will shine even more brilliantly.

The one freedom that can never be taken away from us is ‘attitude’. If we deploy it properly, we gain strength from within and can easily sail through the challenges and uncertainties of life. We have the choice and we have to use it judiciously to not just survive, but to thrive in the challenge! Pain is an essential part of life. But we can choose not to suffer. Suffering happens when we identify with the incident and dwell on it. Then we suffer in anticipation, when calamity strikes and we grieve over it even after it is over. Let us bring our intellect, the rational aspect of us into the picture; assess the situation; focus on what can be done and do it without allowing irrational fears to traumatize us.

The mind imagines the worst, torments us and robs us of peace and tranquility. The intellect has the capacity to control the mind and keep one on an even keel. Using the existing intellect to control the wavering mind and fortifying it with our resilience will enable us to overcome the crisis. Resilience is one’s ability to recoil, rebound, and readily recovering from stretching or compression or even depression, which most Indians have in abundant measure. On its own it represents the overall adaptability and coping, but it can be classified in four types like: Psychological, Emotional, Physical, and Community resilience.

Psychological resilience refers to the ability to mentally withstand or adapt to uncertainty, challenges, and adversity. It is sometimes referred to as “mental fortitude.” People who exhibit psychological resilience develop coping strategies and capabilities that enable them to remain calm and focused during a crisis and move on without long-term negative consequences.

In Emotional Resilience there are varying degrees of how well a person copes emotionally with stress and adversity. Some people are, by nature, more or less sensitive to change. How a person responds to a situation can trigger a flood of emotions. Emotionally resilient people understand what they are feeling and why. They tap into realistic optimism, even when dealing with a crisis, and are proactive in using both internal and external resources. As a result, they are able to manage stressors as well as their emotions in a healthy, positive way.

Physical resilience refers to the body’s ability to adapt to challenges, maintain stamina and strength, and recover quickly and efficiently. It is a person’s ability to function and recover when faced with illness, accidents, or other physical demands. Research published in April 2016 in The Journal of Gerontology showed that physical resilience plays an important role in healthy aging, as people encounter medical issues and physical stressors. Healthy lifestyle choices, building connections, making time to rest and recover, deep breathing, and engaging in enjoyable activities all play a role in building physical resilience.

And lastly, the Community resilience is the ability of groups of people to respond to and recover from adverse situations, such as natural disasters, acts of violence, economic hardship, and other challenges to their community.

Research into what promotes resilience supports the idea that certain protective resources, rather than the absence of risk factors, play a significant role in a person’s capacity to confront and work through stressors. Things like social support, adaptive coping skills, and the ability to tap into one’s inner strengths can help develop and strengthen resilience in an individual. When it comes to the idea of “natural resilience” or a person’s innate ability to recover from adversity, the research is somewhat mixed.

On the basis of this theory of resilience, The American Academy of Pediatrics has evolved a model known as the 7 Cs model, which is primarily meant for children but is equally applicable to the adults, who are eventually required to apply it to them. The 7 Cs model is centered on two key assumptions: first, that young people live up or down to the expectations that are set for them and need adults who love them unconditionally and hold them to high expectations; and next how we model resilience for young people is far more important than what we say about it. The Key points of the 7 Cs Model is as under:

  • Competence This is the ability to know how to handle situations effectively. To build competence, individuals develop a set of skills to help them trust their judgments and make responsible choices.
  • Confidence Dr. Ginsburg says that true self-confidence is rooted in competence. Individuals gain confidence by demonstrating competence in real-life situations.
  • Connection Close ties to family, friends, and community provide a sense of security and belonging.
  • Character Individuals need a fundamental sense of right and wrong to make responsible choices, contribute to society, and experience self-worth.
  • Contribution Ginsburg says that having a sense of purpose is a powerful motivator. Contributing to one’s community reinforces positive reciprocal relationships.
  • Coping When people learn to cope with stress effectively, they are better prepared to handle adversity and setbacks.
  • Control Developing an understanding of internal control helps individuals act as problem-solvers instead of victims of circumstance. When individuals learn that they can control the outcomes of their decisions, they are more likely to view themselves as capable and confident.

India is a great nation of young people, a rising superpower of the 21st century with profound spiritual roots. There is no doubt that, through each of us, India will play a pivotal role in the emergence of a new renaissance of life as we persevere in our brave efforts to triumph in this challenging time.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

  • Bhushan Lal Razdan, formerly of the Indian Revenue Service, retired as Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Chandigarh. Post-retirement, he is actively associated with medical, educational, cultural and heritage issues and joined various societies and trusts to promote these objectives. Occasionally he contributes articles of contemporary relevance in Newspapers and Magazines. He is also a Trustee of Vitasta Health Care Trust

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