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Keep calm!

My fellow travellers around the world, it's a difficult time but this doesn't mean we have to give in to despair.
The questions that I usually receive when I meet with friends are: 1) where do you plan to travel next? and 2) what events are happening this week(end) in the city?. Now with the new measures I will not be able to do any of them.
Am I starting to panic? NO. More than ever this is the moment when we have to be rational.
Have I been to supermarket to buy more food? Yes, I have been, but I didn't make stocks for weeks or months. I bought the necessary for ONE person so I don't need to go daily to the supermarket.
I don't like keeping social distance, but during these moments some physical and mental distance can help us to overcome this crisis.
So how do I cope with the situation?
In normal situation I am against online meetings, but now, I started to use these tools more. I am doing more often video calls with the loved ones. Remember this is a temporary situation!
I said before, that we need to remain rational. I will give you a little bit of context. In 1960, the neuroscientist Paul MacLean introduced the model of the Triune brain, a model of the evolution of the vertebrate forebrain and behaviour. The triune brain consists of the reptilian complex, the paleomammalian complex (limbic system), and the neomammalian complex (neocortex). The first two ones are the oldest ones and they are focused on keeping us safe, and if you like, the ones responsible for fight or flight switch. The latest one, the one that differentiates us of the animal reign is the neocortex which is responsible with solving complex problems (differential equations for example) and the ability to make predictions. It's easier to remember this using the metaphor of the elephant  and the rider. This metaphor was introduced by Jonathan Haidt. Haidt argues that we have two sides: an emotional side (the Elephant), and an analytical, rational side (its Rider). For my Romanian readers, I recommend Mind Architect podcast to learn more about this subject.
Now let's analyse the current crisis, and remember I am not an expert in the domain (I'm just a programmer). All the news from media about hoarding essentials is a response of the Elephant which takes over the Rider. I'm not saying the situation is not serious. It is but let's train our Elephant to make wise decisions. Most of you, who read this post, are living in developed countries and the threat of starvation was eradicated many years ago. So, you will be fine if you take only one pack of pasta, or toilet paper, and leave some for others too.
Let's have a look on how to train the Elephant! You might heard it before but the most effective way is meditation! Just try it and observe how your mind feels! Headspace or Balance are just two examples of apps that can help you to start meditation today. 
Another tip for a calm Elephant is sleep! A good quality and quantity of sleep helps the neocortex be in charge of the decision making. There are many studies which prove this. The neocortex is not able to run 24/7 as the reptilian brain and the limbic system. If you want to learn more about the impact of the sleep in our daily life I recommend Why we sleep
Why we sleep

This is also a good moment to catch up with your reading bucket list! Reading a book forces your mind to focus on the present. 
I am currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow. The novel concerns Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a man ordered by a Bolshevik tribunal to spend the rest of his life in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow. See the irony here. Alain de Button has a saying: "Most of what makes a book good is that we are reading it at the right moment for us".
So far, I've provided tips and tricks for the mind. But let's not forget the body. I used to order a lot of take away and I wanted to change this habit. Now I am focusing more on cooking and trying to be creative here. With cooking you have double benefit, you are nurturing your body with healthy food and also keep your mind focused in the present.
Who says you have to stop exercising if you can't go to gym? There are plenty of apps or youtube channels with trainings you can do at home. Be considerate for your neighbours if you need to jump! For me it's easier as a yogi. I recommend Down Dog (which provides free subscription until 1st of April) or Yoga with Adriene. And I am happy to see creative ideas from yoga studios from Bucharest. Most of them moved their classes online. Checkout Studioul Universul, Ahimsa Yoga Studio or my friend's initiative:  Community Check-In, Sharing & Yoga Online
Other creative idea that emerged during this crisis is of unteatru, which makes live stream of their plays! As an expat in Netherlands I miss a lot going to a traditional theater play in a language I can understand. This evening I am going to enjoy „The Sunset Limited” from the comfort of my couch!
Least but not last, now it's the moment for a spring cleanup! I've discussed about mental cleanup but cleaning up the space where we leave keeps the diseases at the door! Next time when you go out to do groceries think about buying cleaning products if you are running out of them!
I hope once the crisis passes we keep applying these habits! 

Till next time, keep calm and social distance! 
Older photo of me from my 2018 trip to the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Namaste!


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