Are you stressed out and fearful about the COVID-19 pandemic? Worried for your financial stability and the health of those close to you? These are all really valid concerns, but today I want to propose an argument against worrying about these things.
This article is not about fitness, so it might not be for you. If not, don't worry - normal content will resume for the next article.
However I do believe that today's message is worth spreading and could help some people who are struggling with this situation from a mental health perspective. Let me know if it does.
Everything is Relative
As hard as times are, know that people have lived through much harder.
I've heard quite a bit of rhetoric recently comparing the current situation to 'a war'. Personally, I think that is a huge disrespect to the men and women who have had to live through the horrors of war.
Being asked to stay inside in the comfort of your own home for a few months is not even comparable to being deployed on the Normandy beaches, or having your family killed by a drone strike in Syria. I'm not downplaying people's concerns, but let's just keep things in perspective.
We Still Have it Pretty Good
The top map is of the leading causes of death around the globe, and the bottom is of countries most affected by COVID-19. The the leading cause of death for developed countries is heart disease, a highly preventable condition that is largely a side effect of an overabundance of food and a lack of physical labour. However in developing countries, people die from things that are mainly attributed to poor access to food, education, and healthcare.
Around 36% of the world lives in abject poverty, and 9 million die from hunger each year. This however doesn't make news headlines or send people into a frenzy, because it doesn't affect us.
However now there has finally come along a disease that western health authorities believe will lead to a significant loss of life (687 so far in Ireland). News media are reporting on this as if it is the apocalypse.
The reality is that what we thought was 'normal' life before this, is not that normal at all. In fact - it was a massive privilege to not have to worry about infectious disease or financial security on a daily basis.
The Happy Part
I'm aware that what I've said up to this point is in danger of sounding like, "Times are bad, but here's all the other depressingly unfair things that happen to other people!" .
That is not my intention.
My intention is to remind you that happiness begins with gratitude for what you have. If you still have your health, a roof over you head, clean water, and family and friends, then globally speaking you are a very fortunate person.
There are a great many unknowns about what the future holds, but try not to focus on those. Instead focus on what is within your control. If you are worried about getting sick, try to keep your body healthy. If you are worried about financial issues, try to make a weekly budget, or think of ways you can move more of your job online. Above all, be grateful for what you still have, and spend time with people who matter to you, even if that's just a phone call.
Actions are better than thoughts, and hope is better than fear.