Calming Covid-19 Fear
For the last few weeks, we have experienced more change and uncertainty than possibly any other time in our lives. For the first time in most of our lifetimes we have experienced our first pandemic, first time quarantine, stock market the worst since the Great Depression, not being able to work, hug, or see our families and friends. Research has revealed some proven strategies for navigating through times of acute anxiety and stress. I’d like to share some of these with you to help get us over the hump by calming our nervous systems in various ways.
The Gratitude Channel
Managing our emotions is crucial for turning our brains from a fight-or-flight response in a situation to the logical, rational center of our brains (the prefrontal cortex). When you feel stress, anxiety, anger, or overwhelm coming on, the best thing to do is to “change the channel” in your mind as quickly as possible. This is easier said than done, but using the following technique as soon as you can will help move you past the uncomfortable emotions you may be dealing with as quickly as possible. The channel you will want to switch on is called the Gratitude Channel. This is a technique where you reflect on the following questions: 1. Who do you love? 2. What are you grateful for? 3. What are you thankful for? By allowing yourself to really think about this and actually feel and experience the emotions that follow will shift your mind from panic to a place of calm. I recommend writing out your responses to those questions ahead of time so when the time comes, you won’t need to think about it if your stress or emotions are getting the better of you. Practice turning this channel on throughout the day while grounding your feet on the floor and practicing slow, deep belly breathing.
Reflect, Reconnect, Nurture
This is an excellent time to reflect on your life and how it’s going. Is what you’re doing working? Do you need to shift any area of your life that may not be serving you any longer? Take inventory of what’s working and not working both personally and professionally. Strategize about what you can implement to create a more balanced life.
Reconnect with both your self care and loved ones. Perhaps life was moving at light speed and we found we hadn’t spent as much time as we would have liked with our spouse, families, and close friends. What an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the technology at our fingertips to call, text, and video chat with loved ones.
Get into nature as much as possible to ground yourself and reconnect with nature. When was the last time you went on a sunset walk? These types of activities are a big part of our self care and nurturing. You can go a step further and get your sleep schedule back on track, take a relaxing bath in the evening before bed, and any other activities that take care of you.
I personally was a little skeptical to the idea that writing down my thoughts would actually do anything or make me feel better during times of stress. Surprisingly, we have a lot of solid research showing that by practicing expressive writing, even just free writing whatever comes to mind for thirty minutes a day, helps us to organize and break down our thoughts and gets it out of our heads and onto paper. Doing so actually helps reduce tension both in our minds and bodies, as we physically carry around whatever stress we may be dealing with as tension throughout the body. I have found this tool to be quite effective during my own times of stress.
No matter what, it is important to remember that life happens in ever changing seasons and that nothing lasts forever. Just as quickly as this came to be, it will also change and evolve into yet another season. Always remember that this, too, shall pass.