In the novel, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams says of the eponymous book that this novel is partially written about:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scored over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.”

I think that with all that is going on in the world right now, those two words – Don’t Panic – are the most important two words you can hear all day.

I know that it is easier said than done, and I am not diminishing what is going on in the world right now or the impact that it is having, but freaking out isn’t helpful.  There are numerous articles and blog posts out there that are telling you that the more you stress, the more cortisol you release lowing your immune system’s response to germs. 

One of the best things I did for myself and my sanity this past week was to stop watching and reading the news and try, although not always successfully, not to speak about what was going on in the world.  Not only was it upsetting me, but I was also getting more and more frightened, and more and more angry about what I was watching or reading.   That anger and fear were hurting me – it was immobilizing me from taking productive actions that could help me now and in the future.

When I told a family member of my decision to eschew watching the news, she asked how was I going to know what was going on?  How can you not know what is going on?  If you are on any social media site, someone is always posting about what is going on.  I know what is happening, it doesn’t mean I have to participate in reading every article or post that comes up on my Facebook or Twitter feed. 

In a wonderful blog post entitled Corona Virus is Serious, But Panic is Optional, Margo Aaron wrote something that hit me square between the eyes: “When You Read The News You’re Not Actually Becoming Well-Informed – You’re Being Emotionally Exploited.”  And while instinctively I knew this, to see this in writing was almost like an epiphany.   (Please read this post – she is more erudite than I can ever be on this topic at this moment.)

It is the medias’ job to keep you in fear so that you continue to watch every moment of the day.  Except, what changes?  I mean, how many times a day do you hear the same information over and over again. As a self-identified news junkie, I have fallen into the rabbit hole way too many times to count and I can pinpoint exactly when it started – the infamous O.J. Simpson white Bronco slow-speed chase.   I watched for hours and hours waiting to see the outcome.  Then it was the Columbine Shooting and so on.  But the information didn’t change as I watched hour after hour – what did was my stress level, as I became more and more frazzled each moment that I watched.

Yes, this pandemic is serious. But we have been told what to do and how to minimize our exposure to the virus:

  • Wash your hands,
  • Don’t touch your Face,
  • Cough/Sneeze into a tissue or your elbow,
  • Keep your distance from others, and
  • Stay home if you can.

How many times do you need to hear, see and read it?

In his daily blog last Friday, March 20th, Seth Godin wrote:

“If panic is helpful, of course you should bring it on. But it rarely is. . . . Being up-to-date on the news is a trap and a scam. Five minutes a day is all you need.”

Well for me, at this moment or until something monumental changes – and I will know it because people will make sure that I do – I am trying to use no minutes of my time during the day.

And so, my advice to you, as I said in the title:  Don’t Panic!

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