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Risk vs. Reward

The country begins to open up, and as a result anxiety spikes. No one seems to have missed the messages from the government and the private sector that tell us to please use caution, there is no cure or inoculation, and people are still dying from this virus, so watch out.


People don't just need to calm down about this virus. This is still a real and dangerous thing, and in this case lack of vigilance could have negative consequences for you and the people around you. All reasonable and qualified experts seem to be in unison on this point. Indeed, I am very anxious for the people around me to also reduce their risks as it is collective effort that is going to do the most good for me, and by extension, others. "We are all in this together" is a literally true, even if it is a figuratively suspect and overly sentimental statement. "We are all in this petri dish together" would be a more colorful and specific statement to make.


In addition to washing hands and wearing masks, there seems to be some ability to predict who will contract the virus, and of those, who will have serious problems if they get it. Not surprisingly, we now have a lot of data to sift that can give us clear insight into phenomena such as "super-spreaders", or people or groups of people who seem to have the ability to infect a disproportionate number of people if they themselves are infected. We also know that if your immune system is compromised, or if you are elderly, or have bad or no insurance, your risk of complications from the virus increases.


There are a number of factors we cannot control, such as our age, our history, and in many cases where we work or the conditions there. Unfortunately there are many people who have few options other than quarantine and isolation, or hope that they can get to a hospital fast enough and have sufficient insurance should they get sick, for reducing their risk.


For many others, however, there are known risk factors that can clearly be mitigated, or in some cases outright prevented or reversed. With a little research this morning I was able to collate many such risk factors. For instance, obesity is a risk factor, and in most cases, obesity is reversible. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are other risk factors that can be managed. Finally, smoking is a risk factor and as a behavior, smoking can be eliminated.


The point of brining this up is that for some people anxious about the virus, there is reason to believe that their concerns are very real. If you find yourself in one (or other) of these preventable risk categories, now is a good time from a behavioral and motivational standpoint to move in the direction of health. You can reduce your risk of complications should you get sick, reduce the risk of other illnesses, and reduce the risk of others getting sick. For many people trying to start or stop habits, the knowledge that their behavior changes will have a positive impact on people around them, and especially people they know and care about, can make a difference in motivation and success. And unless you think by this post that I'm suggesting accomplishing something like losing weight or stopping smoking is easy, I am certainly not. This post is mostly about motivation, but often in these cases motivation alone is not sufficient for success. Consult with you health or mental health professional for help in making such major changes in your life. In my experience method is often as important as motivation.

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© 2020 by Andrew Schlegelmilch