Article written for the Venice Gondolier’s Well Being in Paradise Magazine | November/December 2020
At the time of this writing, it’s been about seven months since Corona went viral, the world closed down and we were all advised to stay home and watch TV until further notice.
Much has been said about the toll that the virus has taken on people psychologically and emotionally. In fact, the CDC produced an article entitled, “Pandemics can be stressful”.
Seriously? These must be the same people who once authored the bumper sticker: “One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day.“
But in all reality, study after study suggest that our anxiety levels have increased during the pandemic. This is easy to explain. As the level of fear/anxiety is the sum of the formula of investment plus threat. Your investments are clear (your health, your family your possessions, your pet chinchilla). But thethreat is not.
Nearing the end of 2020, it is still not clear what type of a risk you face when leaving your home . If exposed to a Covid positive person, will you become positive? If so, will you be positive but asymptomatic? Suffer mild symptoms? Get severely ill or even die? The answer is : nobody knows. What is clear is that young people, although still vulnerable in some cases, are far less likely to get sick and especially to die. The very young are extremely unlikely to die from this disease, and, truth be told, are far more likely to die of traffic fatalities or other accidents than from COVID-19.
But what about children spreading the illness to one another? What about spreading the virus to adults? Parents? Grandparents? While the research is not definitive, and Dr. Fauci promises we will know more about such in the months ahead, we still have no research now to suggest that either children are in danger from the illness or that they are guilty of spreading the virus to adults. In fact, according to Larry Steinman, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at Stanford university school of medicine, “it seems notable that this pandemic, which has had so much of a toll in mortality and morbidity, does seem to spare kids in a dramatic way.“ To wit, of over 200,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19, only about 100 are children and teenagers.
So where is the threat? Essentially the threat is, as we have known for months, primarily facing the older population, especially those with comorbidities. (accompanying sicknesses) . Children are much more likely to shrug the bug off and not pass it to anyone. Although “ scientists also worry that younger people play an outsize role in spreading the virus, no major outbreaks among younger children in schools have yet to materialize. “
But there are other threats: missing school is much more likely to cause long-term harm to our children (and future society) then Covid will. The loss of opportunities to socialize, hone skills in athletics, music, art or any other activity that generally suggest meeting in groups will also be costly, in terms of development and maturation. And no, remote schooling, although ambitious, does not approximate the positive results of in-person school attendance for children.
And there’s another very obvious loss-children need adults to grow into the people we hope they will become. They need hands-on instruction. They need caring aunts and uncles and cousins. They need coaches and tutors. They need grandparents. They need you.
From what we know, Covid is not likely to kill them, but losing their quarantined grandparents will most likely wound them. It has been noted for decades that there is a natural affinity between grandparents and grandchildren.
So what to do? I frequently ask my patients to take charge of the only three things in this world under their control: what you think, say and do. Nothing else (including corona) is yours to control, but your response to it is yours. That said, fear/anxiety is only your friend the way the dummy lights on your dashboard are. Address the issue and the light goes out. Do not drive the rest of your life with the engine light on. Translation: decide where you stand on the corona issue. If you are too frightened to risk a visit with your children/grandchildren, accept it and work hard to FaceTime, Skype or Zoom your way back into their world.
Controlling what is yours means self care is vital. Exercise daily and take good care of your mind, body and soul.
Appreciate the research on isolation. Sometimes called “the new smoking“, research claims that isolation is a worse health risk than obesity and can take as many as 14 years off of your life. Again, Covid may not kill you, but isolation may very well do the job.
So don your facial protection and stand apart, if you like. But dive back into your life with all the zest that you can muster. Rediscover your family, friends, activities and faith. Be smart, but let go of your fear. It’s time to put on a mask and bravely face the Covid challenge, sort of like the Lone Ranger, without the being alone part. After all, pandemics can be stressful.