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Over the past few days, we have been bombarded with Covid-19 information. I fear we may have two outbreaks going on — a fear pandemic and a flu pandemic. Oh yes, there might be a third — a misinformation pandemic.

In these times of uncertainty, it’s critical we keep our wits about us, lest we worry ourselves sick — and I mean that quite literally.

So I ask myself hourly, “what is within my control?” The answer? Our reaction is 100% within our control.

In marketing and advertising, I know that two things sell products best: fear and sex.

At Pine View Farms, we have deliberately steered away from fear-based selling. Rather we talk about moving towards better things. And as for sex? Well, neither Kevin nor I are that sexy and somehow, I think that strategy would scare y’all away! Not a good strategy at all!

As humans, we are innately wired to respond very quickly to fear. Our fight or flight response saved our butts as Neanderthals.

We are hardwired for negativity. It’s called negativity bias. “Bad” things grab our attention and they tend to influence our decision making more than “good” things of equal magnitude.

Our brains perceive negative news as more truthful, drawing more attention and hence, having greater validity. Now we know why fake news runs rampant and has become a slick tool of nefarious politicians.

Covid-19 is the latest opportunity to feed fear to the masses. Now more than ever, the diet you consume every day — what you eat, read and watch matters.

(Writing is cathartic for me, and so be aware, I’m preaching to myself here.)

I’m not gonna lie. For the past week, I have vacillated between gut wrenching panic and heroic stoicism every hour, depending on where my mind dwells.

As a business owner, I feel the weight of responsibility for our staff’s health and economic stability. I feel scared for our farm’s economic future. Everything is on the line here and we have no safety net. And, we want to care generously for our parents, children and surrounding community.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence says “The longer the neurons [brain cells] fire, the more of them that fire, and the more intensely they fire, the more they’re going to wire that inner strength –- that happiness, gratitude, feeling confident, feeling successful, feeling loved and lovable.”

But on a daily basis, most of us dwell more on the negative than the positive. We need five times more positive interactions than negative reactions to thrive as a species! Those feel hard to come by these days.

So, what can we do?

  1. In all things, remember that our reaction to events is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT within our control. We cannot control much in this life, but our personal reaction is a big one. Keep your head screwed on!
  2. Don’t fall prey to the 24-hour news cycle. Find trusted, reliable news sources, get good science, and turn off the TV and/or put down your phone. Otherwise, you are feeding fear and soon your stomach will be churning like mad.
  3. Nurture your mind, body and spirit. Do the things you always do to stay healthy. Eat well. Sleep well. Exercise. Get outside in nature. Meditate or pray. Find connection and community. These are the things that build resilience in your body and brain and will enable you to fend off sickness if, and when, it comes.
  4. Feed your brain daily goodness. Be present in the moment. Breathe deeply. Try to affirm the positive moments you experience every day. Start a gratitude list. You will find joy.

There is one last thing I need to ask of you. You might think it’s self-serving, but this isn’t just about us. Wherever you can, support locally owned small businesses for your purchases. Now more than ever, it’s critical to have local production and supply chains for essential items like food, so that we have the economic resilience and capacity to take care of ourselves. We believe a creative, robust, local economy is critical to our recovery.

I remain resolute in hope — does that make me crazy? Maybe. Is it possible that that through this pandemic, we might realize that all of humanity is connected on this little ball of a planet, and that now more than ever, we need to work together and be very, very kind to one another? That would be the best thing ever.

No matter how you’re feeling this week, those emotions are valid. Let’s be cautious and calm. Let’s be gracious to our neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. Let’s find hope.

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