How to Best Cope with Your First Pandemic

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, March 11th, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 – the disease better known to everyone has the coronavirus – a worldwide pandemic. The last time a pandemic was declared, before last week, was 11 years ago for the H1N1 (swine) flu. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the swine flu infected nearly 61 million people in the United States and caused 12,469 deaths. Worldwide, up to 575,400 people died from pandemic swine flu. One in five people was infected but the death rate was quite low at just 0.02 percent.

While the last pandemic was not that long ago, and it was not without high infection rates and deaths, it didn’t cause the level of actions, closures, and impact to the stock market and people’s lives as what the world is experiencing right now with COVID-19, so this might well be the first time you are personally impacted by and concerned with a pandemic. 

A pandemic is an epidemic that’s spread over several countries or continents and affects a large percent of the population. As of the writing of this post: 

  • Globally 142 539 confirmed (9769 new)
  • 5393 deaths (438 new)
  • US 2,174 cases in 49 states

We are experiencing a massive unexpected first time situation in the world, as a country, within our city, community and home. 

People are reacting to the news and effects of the coronavirus – to this massive unexpected first time – in multiple different ways on the spectrum of under-reacting to full-on panic. 

What I want to do in this post is to breakdown what we know about unexpected first times and how to best prepare ourselves to get through them.

The First Step is Always Gathering Information

Every time we are faced with a first time and new experience we enter into the unknown, more so with unexpected firsts, because they’re not of our choosing and we’ve had no time to prepare ourselves. When in the unknown, things can rapidly escalate into panic because of fear, if we aren’t properly educated, lead, and provided information to appease our thoughts, concerns, and imaginations.

In all situations, but particularly like what we are facing with the coronavirus, the spread of misinformation is rampant and we have a greater tendency to feed rather than minimize our fears.

This is why the most CRITICAL first step for all first times is to inform and educate ourselves. To gather facts and information to shape and inform our decision making and our next steps. 

The key to success in this step is to get to what you need from reliable sources. Social media posts, memes, and 99.9% of the time your friend and family do not qualify as reliable sources. 

In this instance recommend resources are:

World Health Organization experts provide a global perspective of the COVID-19 virus, while also sharing individual best practices on topics like how to best protect yourself from the disease.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Under the What You Should Know section, readers can learn:

  • How the disease spreads,
  • Prevention tactics,
  • Treatment protocols, 
  • Answers to frequently asked questions. 

The Situation Updates section provides a summary of the virus, tracks cases specific to the United States and global locations affected by COVID-19, provides a risk assessment and explains how the CDC is taking action to prevent the further spread of the virus.

The website also provides information tailored to different population groups, including community centers, schools and businesses, as well as information for healthcare professionals, travelers and laboratories. Readers also can browse news releases distributed by the CDC under the What’s New section.

Be sure to validate and verify all the information you receive and hear with those two sources. 

Your local state and city offices and websites might also have additional information relevant to things specific to your community. You want to be aware of the bigger picture, the development around the world, within the country where you live, and as close to home as you can get. 

Get a Better Understanding Of Yourself

All first times and new experiences have a lot to teach us about who we are. Dealing with a pandemic for the first time is likely to put you in touch with your fears, worries, concerns, priorities, and behaviors under stress – just to name a few things.  

All you have to do is scroll through your Facebook newsfeed to learn some things about others you might never have known based on how they view and are reacting to this pandemic. 

However, your first experience with a pandemic isn’t about others – it’s about you. So, take the time to find out what is going on with you. 

What are your thoughts and feelings about what’s happening?

What are your fears and concerns? Are your fears and concerns rooted in facts? 

Are you worried about others in your life?

Is this causing a financial strain? Or will it down the road?

How is it making you feel and behave towards others?

Layout the full meaning of what’s happening in relation to you, your family, friends, and those you love and care about.

The reason you need to get to the root of all your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and what’s causing you anxiety, fear, and worry is so you understand what you must plan for.

Create a Plan 

The reason I do a weekly episode of Expert Advice Before Your First Time Series on the #365Firsts Podcast is the provide you the information you need before doing something for the first time, so you can plan and prepare to decrease the unknown, and increase your probability of success.

Creating and having a plan for a first time, or in this case, in the middle of the unknowns of an unexpected first time is necessary to avert fear and panic mode. Knee jerk actions, or blindly following directions that aren’t in alignment with what you need to know you’re prepared to handle won’t make you less stressed, worried, or scared.

You need to address everything that is causing you stress, worry, and scaring you with a plan of action. 

As you plan, continue to seek out the information, resources, and people you need to implement your plan. Establish triggers for your plan and decision making. Anticipate that outside forces will impact your plan but that once you have a foundation to a plan, you can adjust from there. Engage your family in making and executing the plan as this will go a long way in easing everyone’s concerns. 

Again, don’t worry about what others around you are doing. Focus on what you need to do for your peace of mind and in keeping with official information, guidance, and recommendations. 

Adapt to Change

This is a turbulent event creating the need for change in how we interact with others, work, and live our lives. First times and new experiences do that – they introduce us to change and bring change into our lives. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. Being flexible and able to adapt to change makes all situations better and easier. 

Get in Touch

If you have additional questions or need help, email me, and we’ll set something up so I can further help you get through this first experience with a pandemic. This is not a first time you’re facing alone, it’s not a first time to take lightly, but it’s also not a first time to panic about. 

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