The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

A new epidemic, which has now become a pandemic, has upset the world’s equilibrium — how are you reacting? Do you feel anxious and threatened, or calm?

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. This new pandemic is caused by a member of the coronavirus family never before encountered in humans. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that experts believe came from animals. 

Although the virus can be deadly, preliminary statistics indicate that the majority of those infected with the virus experienced only mild symptoms, and the overwhelming majority of people who contract the disease can expect a full recovery. 

Many people, however, have died from COVID-19, and the fatality rate in China, where the disease originated, has reached approximately 2.3% — higher than the devastating Spanish Influenza pandemic in the early 20th century. (See the report of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the February 24, 2020 Journal of the American Medical Association here.)

So it’s important to remember that, while scientists are working diligently on solutions and attempting to develop a safe vaccine, one thing remains entirely under our own personal control: our individual peace of mind. 

With that in mind, here are five strategies to help you navigate the uncertainty:

1. Remain Calm

Panicking over any disease helps no one. We do not need to fall prey to fear and uncertainty, which can counterproductively sap our energy. A positive attitude and strong immune system both create our best line of defense. The Baha’i teachings remind us that keeping the situation in perspective and focusing on gratitude rather than fear provides the best remedy for anxiety:

Be calm, be strong, be grateful, and become a lamp full of light, that the darkness of sorrows be annihilated, and that the sun of everlasting joy arise from the dawning-place of heart and soul, shining brightly. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha

When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha

2. Educate Yourself 

Misinformation is rampant, so don’t fall prey to unreliable media and sensationalized reporting. Sadly, during the COVID-19 outbreak people of Asian descent have reported a rise in racial aggressions and the spreading of anti-Asian prejudice. According to a recent article in The Washington Post: “The WHO has urged government agencies to do what they can to prevent discrimination against specific populations, since stigmatization can fuel the spread of the outbreak by driving marginalized individuals to hide infection and avoid seeking treatment.”

When we get our information from credible, scientifically-accurate sources, we avoid superstitions, prejudices, and illogical reactions. Credible media sources include: 

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  •  Medline Plus, from the U.S. National Library of Medicine
  • Established medical journals like JAMA, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine
  • The U.K.’s National Health Service
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Major news outlets with deep expertise in health reporting, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe’s STAT News.

3. Protect Yourself

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.” Ways to protect yourself include: 

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before eating and frequently throughout the day, especially when returning home from being out in public
  • Keep objects you touch often (computers, phones, light switches, etc.) fastidiously clean.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat as healthy as possible and avoid dinning out when possible
  • Keep your stress level to a minimum

4. Stay Home 

Experts recommend that everyone practice social distancing, “measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the virus,” according to the New York Times.

If you start to feel sick, your best chance for a speedy recovery is to stay home, rest, and take good care of yourself — immediately. Talk to your doctor if you start to experience flu-like symptoms. People will understand, and you aren’t doing anyone any favors by dragging yourself into work or school or pushing yourself to run those errands. Options such as home grocery delivery and on-line transport services are available.

5. Remember That God Is With You

Prayer and meditation bring comfort and consolation. We can renew our inner peace by turning toward the spiritual teachings of the messengers who founded the great Faiths. Now is the time for more prayer, reflection, and detachment. Through difficult experiences, we renew our faith and focus on the spirit. Remember that God is with you:

We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

Let them cling to the hem of Almighty God, and put their faith in the Beauty of the most High; let them lean on the unfailing help that cometh from the Ancient Kingdom, and depend on the care and protection of the generous Lord. – Abdu’l-BahaSelections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha

In the days ahead, we know that COVID-19 will continue to spread, but we can prepare ourselves physically and spiritually so that fear does not invade our hearts and minds. If we come together as a planet and realize how much we need each other, we will most certainly find solutions.

7 Comments

characters remaining
  • Frank Welsh
    Mar 16, 2020
    Great article, but I personally have some trepidation per your recommendations for "credible" media sources. They may have some temporary guidance but overall these are the institutions that have confused people through very un-scientific health policies and direction for many years. Just look at our current health as a Nation, excluding Covid-19, we are the sickest we have been in the last 30 years because of our so-called scientific reliance on some of these brazenly political and corrupted organizations. Not very good stewardship to rely on. Best to independently search for oneself, rely on our Creator and look to ...the positive advancement of civilization.
    Read more...
  • Jules R
    Mar 16, 2020
    Beautifully written article. Thank you ❤️🙏🏼⭐️
  • Ellen Ramer
    Mar 15, 2020
    Good solid advice, Kathy! I hope everyone reads this. Ellen Ramer
  • Mark David Vinzens
    Mar 15, 2020
    A good opportunity to work miracles. By cultivating peace of mind and sharing this light with everyone. We are called to be healers like Jesus. „Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.“ ~ A Course in Miracles
    • Mar 16, 2020
      I agree Mark! And what a beautiful quote. Thank you for your comments.
  • Catherine Younesi
    Mar 15, 2020
    Excellent read!