Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Q: Krishna Madam, we are facing a very difficult situation. Our house is near a crematorium and we see corpses burning day in and day out especially during this covid  crisis. I want to close all the doors and windows as my 15 year old son and 17 year old daughter can't cope with seeing all this. But my husband insists that we teach our children the reality of life. My mother-in-law and father-in-law support me but my husband is not listening. Even psychologists say, we should keep away from covid news and its bad consequences. Who is right and what should we do?

Krishna:   I recently read in one of the news papers that even clinical phycologists are facing stress now. So even the experts are unable to cope with the situation. Where has all their knowledge and training gone? Is it the right knowledge? If it is, why is it faltering? :)
Does pretending reality doesn't exist and escaping into an unrealistic world make you and your children strong? Or taking the bull by the horns makes you strong?
Let me start answering the question with my own story. I used to be mentally very weak when I was very young. I used to faint at the sight of blood. I dreaded visiting hospital ICUs and trauma centres and avoided them completely. I was like that for years. Under the protection of my parents, pretending that everything is rosy in the world. But is it the right way to gain mental strength? NO!  
I became strong only when I changed my attitude and faced the reality as it is.
The best way to handle a traumatic situation is to go through it, then resolving it in your mind, learning how to comprehend it, handle it and overcome it in the right way,  not by avoiding it.  
The best way to overcome fear is passing through it and understanding how to overcome it by analysing  it the right way. 
Don't pretend distressing things don't exist, don't avoid them.
You will never gain mental strength to face them if you try to keep away from them. If you don't gain mental health, you will try to escape into a pseudo or temporary world by taking drugs or alcohol to avoid trauma.
Wishing difficulties away doesn't make them go away, praying for a better situation doesn't make them go away . Instead face them , try to understand them, dissect them, learn how to handle them.  You don't know how strong you are  until being strong becomes your only choice. 

Face this reality: Scientists say covid will never go away completely from the  surface of the Earth! 
Covid is here to stay. Eradicating this virus right now from the world is a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon. It’s unrealistic. Many scientists expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to become endemic, but it could pose less danger over time. Failure to eradicate the virus does not mean that death, illness or social isolation will continue on the scales seen so far. The future will depend heavily on the type of immunity people acquire through infection or vaccination and how the virus evolves. Influenza and the four human coronaviruses that cause common colds are also endemic: but a combination of annual vaccines and acquired immunity means that societies tolerate the seasonal deaths and illnesses they bring without requiring lockdowns, masks and social distancing.
 It would be possible to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 from some regions while it continued to circulate in others. In zero-COVID regions there would be a continual risk of disease outbreaks, but they could be quenched quickly by herd immunity if most people had been vaccinated. 
The 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed more than 50 million people, is the yardstick by which all other pandemics are measured. It was sparked by a type of virus known as influenza A, which originated in birds. Almost all cases of influenza A since then, and all subsequent flu pandemics, have been caused by descendants of the 1918 virus. These descendants circulate the globe, infecting millions of people each year. Flu pandemics occur when populations are naive to a virus; by the time a pandemic virus becomes seasonal, much of the population has some immunity to it. Seasonal flu still has a significant toll globally, claiming roughly 650,000 lives per year.
Experts think the coronavirus might follow a similar path. So we should learn how to live with it. 

CORONAVIRUS: HERE TO STAY. Graphic showing some of the key factors that are likely to lead to SARS-CoV-2 becoming endemic.

Available evidence suggests that the virus is predominantly transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and close contact, but there are also examples of transmission between humans and animals. Several animals that have been in contact with infected humans, such as minks, dogs, domestic cats, lions and tigers, have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

All available evidence for COVID-19 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source. So we cannot completely eradicate it.

What you can do is control it substantially. That ‘s all!

We should accept this reality.

When being strong becomes your only choice....

When life throws insurmountable challenges at you
When it beats you down to your last breath
When pain and suffering become your constant companions
When you know there is only darkness all around you
When all hope seems to have vanished
When people around you choose to become only witnesses to all this
Then being strong becomes your only choice

When you fancy a way filled with wilderness
When you try to travel a less trodden path full of difficulties
When people tell you to abandon it and come to theirs'
When your mind refuses to head to their voices
When suddenly you realize you are all alone
When there are still millions of miles to cover
Then being strong becomes your only choice

In these cases there is only one light
Bring spring to your gait
Time to focus all your might
Fires in your belly to ignite
Train your wings to take the highest flight
This is the only way to fight:

Abandon weakness, not life
Give up tears, not hope
Accept only success, not failure
Move forward, do not stop or cease

By turning adversity on its head
Make your fate give upon you
By shaking your will to fall in line
Make your destiny accept you as its master

In the end you yourself will be surprised
About the stuff you comprise
When being strong becomes your only choice
You become the impenetrable person the world could ever face!

Based on my art work "Adversities are the machines that polish these gems''

Difficulties are machines that polish these gems. Art work by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa

(Majority of the people in the world think that obstacles, difficulties, pain and agony are not good for them. On the contrary, I feel, they are the machines that polish the personality of a human being. If a person knows how to learn lessons from them and how to understand the philosophy of life, adversities bring out the best in a human being and make the person very strong and beautiful.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. They are created by the adversities!)

All those individuals who attained greatness, regardless of which walk of life they came from, were the products of difficulty and not of facility. They faced challenges and emerged as superachievers.

Animals don't try to avoid difficulties in the wild by running away from them. They learn how to cope with them and overcome them. We are more intelligent than animals. Can't we face them in a better way? We can!
Have you  ever thought about the children in the war zones? And children in Africa who lost both their parents to disease, death and poverty? The elder ones, who 're only 10-15 years old themselves, took control and looked after their younger siblings. 
If you show only one side of the story to your children, the brighter side at that,  and hide the other side , the children would think life is a bed of roses. They will never learn about the difficult part of it and how to handle it. And when a situation suddenly arises where they will have to face the darker side, they will stumble and fall!
Be realistic, neither positive, nor negative. See life as it is and learn how to handle it correctly.
There are things that have to be grasped despite the difficulties and get updated on them. 
Avoiding bad situations is not right, mastering to handle them in the right way is the proper course of action.

I know some people can cope with tough times while others can't. Making the second type  like the first ones is very vital for their own survival. When 'Survival of the fittest' rule is followed by nature,  making everyone tough is the only way out. 

So how can we achive this? 

Why do some people seem to be better able to cope in these troubling times than others? While everyone’s situation is different, it is true that people with resilience tend to have a higher tolerance for the emotional distress generated by hard times. The more resilient you are, the better you’re able to tolerate the feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness that accompany trauma and adversity—and find a way to rebound from setbacks. We all go through bad times, we all experience disappointment, loss, and change, and we all feel sad, anxious, and stressed at various times in our lives. But building resilience can help you  maintain a correct outlook, face an uncertain future with less fear, and get through even the darkest days.

How do we build resilience? 

Unless you’ve faced adversity in your life before, it’s unlikely you’ve had the need or opportunity to develop resilience. Drawing on past experiences can help you cope with the challenges you’re facing today. Even if you’ve struggled to cope with adversity in the past, you may at least be able to recognize some of the ways of coping that DON’T help, such as trying to numb your feelings with drugs or alcohol.

While it’s often difficult to imagine anything good coming out of traumatic experiences, building resilience can help you find any positives in the difficulties you’ve faced. Surviving hardships can teach you important things about yourself and the world around you, strengthen your resolve, deepen your empathy, and in time enable you to evolve and grow as a human being. 

There are a few steps to follow to cope with a tough situation.

The first one is acceptance. While we all react to stressful events in different ways, many of us try to protect ourselves by refusing to accept the truth of what’s happening. After all, by denying that you’re even experiencing a crisis, you can kid yourself, try to be positive like some advice, and hope that the crisis can melt away on its own if you stay positive. 

Someone recently sent me this message: Problems and difficulties are like red lights at traffic junctions. If you wait for a few seconds, they turn to green lights! 

Do they really? NO!

Expecting the difficulties to go away on their own, or in a very short period of time is kidding yourself! It won't help you in anyway.

Staying in denial will prevent you from adapting to your new circumstances, stop you from seeking solutions or taking action, and stifle the healing process. So you have to accept the situation as it is. 

Then try to change things that are in your hands . Give emotional support to others who need it. 

Accept both your feelings as well as those of people around you. If people try to supress their feelings, they will undergo tremendous stress. Talk to people who are under stress and facing tough situations. Try to understand them, analyse them and help them resolve them. 

Try to avoid people who make you feel very bad but don't avoid people who are trying to talk some sense into you like your husband.

Increasing your resilience takes time and intentionality. Focusing on four core components—connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning—can empower you to withstand and learn from difficult and traumatic experiences.

Living through tough times can be both mentally and physically draining. Constantly being in a heightened state of stress can lead to serious health problems, impact your immune and digestive systems, increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and lead to burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.

But all stress is not bad,  some of it is good too. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory. Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. sometimes being stressed-out motivates you to focus on your work, yet at other times, you feel incredibly overwhelmed and can’t concentrate on anything. While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress — and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems — bad stress.

According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. For instance, stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory.

Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This creates a variety of reactions such as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Plus, the senses suddenly have a laser-like focus so you can avoid physically stressful situations — such as jumping away from a moving car — and be safe.

In addition, there are various health benefits with a little bit of stress. Researchers think that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. For instance, stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. In one study, individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery were able to recover faster than individuals who had low or high levels.

When stress is key for survival, too much stress can be detrimental. Emotional stress that stays around for weeks or months can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease. In particular, too much epinephrine can be harmful to your heart. It can change the arteries and how their cells are able to regenerate.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but you can improve the way you respond to stress and avoid or change some of the situations that create negative stress.

Since the body and mind are so closely linked, investing in self-care is an important part of building resilience and getting through times of great stress. When your body feels strong and healthy so, too, will your mind.

so how to cope with bad stress? 

Do things that make you and your children happy like talking to them and playing with them.

Get enough exercise. When you’re dealing with chronic stress, you likely carry it somewhere in your body. Maybe your muscles are tense, you have back or neck pain, frequent headaches, insomnia, heartburn, or an upset stomach? Getting regular exercise not only releases powerful endorphins in the brain to improve your mood, but it can also help to ease tension in the body and counteract the physical symptoms of stress.

Practice a “mind and body” relaxation technique.Try meditation and deep breathing and body awareness to help you relieve stress and bring your nervous system back into balance.

Improve your sleep.  Often, improving your daytime habits and taking the time to relax and unwind before bed can help you sleep better at night.

Eat well. There are no specific foods that can help build resilience and weather tough times. Rather, it’s your overall dietary pattern that’s important.  A healthy diet, on the other hand, can give you the energy and focus to tackle the challenges you’re facing.

Search for meaning and purpose of life.  Follow things that really make you happy and satisfied after this search. 

An important part of coping with adversity and making it through tough times is to foster qualities of persistence and endurance. Tough times don’t last forever, but by their very nature they’re rarely over quickly. As you plot a road through the darkness, you need to find ways to stay motivated and persevere.

Deal with your problems one step at a time. If a problem is too big to deal with all at once, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. If your problem seems to have no possible solution, you can still take action by drawing up a list, researching more about the subject, or seeking the advice of a trusted friend or loved one.

Celebrate small wins. To stay motivated and positive as you navigate stormy seas in life, take a moment to savor your small successes. Noting these small wins can give you a welcome break from all the stress and negativity you’re facing and encourage you to keep going.

Try to maintain a hopeful outlook while preparing for the worst. While it’s difficult to stay positive and hopeful in the midst of a crisis, many of us tend to blow our problems out of proportion and make them seem even more negative than they really are. Try taking a step back and examining your situation as an outsider. Are their rays of hope that you can focus on? Instead of worrying about what you fear may happen, try visualizing what you’d do to overcome them if unwanted things happen.

Be kind to yourself. Everyone adjusts to change and upheaval differently. Don’t criticize your coping skills or beat yourself up for every mistake you make. Instead plan how to do things that can improve the situation.

You are there to guide your children in handling the crisis. 

I think your husband is right. Listen to him. Take his help. Try to grasp the techniques of coping with the situation from him. As a single family unit, by helping one another,  I am certain that you can overcome all the difficulties with good effort  .... and when you do that let me know.

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