As the coronavirus handling and news continue to produce more not less confusion, misinformation and puzzling decisions by powers that be, it is natural for fear to increase from uncertainty.
Human are hardwired to need a sense of safety and security. This is not a want. It’s about one hormone in particular, oxytocin, that is released into the bloodstream, and nourishes the cells of our body, whenever we feel an overall sense of safety and love. It is the same hormone that floods a mother’s body, and her newborn, when she holds her baby in her arms. This hormone, literally, ensures a baby’s survival. We know from mad-science experiments conducted in Nazi Germany, that infants do not survive past age 3 to 5 without love and human touch. Food, shelter, clothing did not suffice to keep babies alive. From the first breath to the last, a sense of love and wellbeing is a governing force. Mere physical survival does not keep humans alive. The yearning to thrive, connect meaningful to life and others is unstoppable. It also keeps us healthy throughout life.
When you feel overall safe and secure, you feel overall loved and loving, and vice versa.
It’s how you’re wired; it’s an unalterable fact of our biology.
Albert Einstein that:
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” ALBERT EINSTEIN
Why would one of the most brilliant scientists who ever lived declare this? Perhaps because he understood or observed first hand the danger that high levels of fear pose both to human health, physically and mentally. Einstein considered the human imagination the greatest of all capabilities. High levels of sustained fear have a debilitating effect, taking over this capacity, and others, such as the capacity for creative thought, possibility thinking, believe is self and life, happiness, many more.
Fear can take over the mind of an individual, and mass media can take over and mislead the public mind. The human brain in survival mode switches off the amazing abilities of the frontal cortext, and goes into black-and-white, either-or flight or flight type thinking.
Another brilliant thinker of the 20th century, psychologist Alfred Adler, put it this way:
“The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.” ALFRED ADLER
Intense and prolonged fear, additionally, have a negative impact on the human immune system, the very system you most need to protect you from getting the flu or from anything but minor systems. Think about how many times in past that you got the flu or a cold, or some ailment, following a prolonged period of worry and stress.
Low levels of stress are good and helpful to critically think and plan for living our best life. High levels of stress – when protracted – compromises the immune system making us more and more vulnerable to viruses and illness.
Fear disempowers us, whereas the attitude of managed concern leaves us more in charge of our mental and emotional nature — and creates easier access to our intuitive guidance and highest choices. Fear disrupts this connection, especially when we need it the most for grounded direction.
1. Thoughtfully respond to this (or any challenge) with a measured or disciplined concern.
Develop a practice of listening to a concern and responding with a measured awareness that keeps you in the present moment. When you are in the present moment, you know you’re thinking brain is engaged. It can reflectively think. Whereas your survival system automatically switches you to either-or, flight or flee reactions. This is a practice of going opposite an old fear reaction. A measured and thoughtful response to a concern is one that keeps your brain and body systems connected, avoids the unnecessary triggering of your body’s survival system. In the words of another brilliant thinker, psychologist Abraham Maslow:
“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.” ABRAHAM MASLOW
The human quest to derive meaning is dependent on our ability to remain present, in the face of danger, and keep our frontal cortex engaged, otherwise the brain and body in fear mode have no ability to think creatively, engage in possibility thinking.
2. Add mindfulness practices to your lifestyle.
Practices such as yoga, meditation, and similar tools that build inner awareness, such as spending time in nature, have been shown effective in lowering depression and anxiety. A mindful orientation deepens awareness of inner processes and thus potentially promotes better care for the body and mind. Sign up for weekly yoga classes, find a meditation practice that is right for you.Learn and practice deep belly breathing, and make this a lifestyle. It will be well worth your time and effort. It helps ground you in the present, and that’s just what you need to make sound choices in challenging moments.
3. Become aware of your self-talk at given times or situations.
This internal dialogue is a stream of words that automatically produce images and turn on fear- or love-based emotions, accordingly. This is where you have leverage to regulate your emotion response. Your thoughts have a lot of power over what actions you take because they active the emotion molecules, or neurotransmitters, that produce or stop behaviors. They also affect your health and happiness in a positive, versus negative, way. So notice what you say to yourself and others. Conscious choose caring, uplifting words and actions when you speak to yourself or others about the coronavirus. Make thoughts and words nourishing, productive, optimally supportive of wise choices and behaviors at any given moment.
4. Limit news, disengage from TV news entirely if possible.
Fear sells. And TV news present the virus as they would a hostile terrorist invasion. It is possible to present the news of a serious concern in a civl way, but it is not. Instead there’s misinformation, and it’s politicized. It appears that both the “right” and “left” have some different aspect of the truth, mixed in with untruths and misinformation. And thus anxiety from uncertainty is dangerously on the increase. Stay informed by signing up for headline news via email; watch your state governor’s briefings on Facebook, etc. In TV terms, keep in mind, fear sells news, and the stations are a business, and businesses prioritize profits. (One may argue that profits should never be above what is in the highest interest and health of the public, but that needs to be addressed in other contexts.)
5. Eat and drink clean, nutritionally smart way to build a strong immune system.
Chronic inflammation is now accepted as the root cause of all major illnesses. It’s a signal that the body is not getting ample nourishment. The original Greek oath by the founder of western medicine, Hippocrates, litterally translated says the following:
“I will apply dietetic and lifestyle measures to help the sick to my best ability and judgment; I will protect them from harm and injustice.” HIPPOCRATES
By helping to normalize insulin and leptin levels, nutrition is a potent antidote against inflammation. Nutrient rich foods are also recognized as powerful protection against depression and anxiety; the link between nutrition and emotional health is proven science. (It does not make money for the pharmaceutical industries, however.) Whereas anxiety and depression were primarily as psychological disorders, recent findings show insufficient nutrition causes biochemical conditions in the brain and body that may be at the root of debilitating emotional disturbances. Sickness occurs when the body is out of balance. Your subconscious, without question, will do its part to ensure you are optimally healthy and have minimal, if any, reaction to viruses. It cannot do your part, however. Get to know how your body works, and what your body needs included in your lifestyle (not just a few days or weeks here and there) to energize its powerful ability to produce optimal emotional and physical health and wellness for you.
6. Make a balanced exercise routine part of your lifestyle. , get some sunshine outdoors, and plenty of sleep.
The body is wondrously designed, among other things, for continual movement (inside and out). Its equipped with an operating system, or subconscious mind, that 24/7 monitors and keeps check on this balance, and there is little to no separation between your emotional and mental health and happiness, and your physical health, strength, stamina. Studies show that exercise significantly reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and other emotional disturbances. It is the natural way to lower depression and anxiety. You are wired for wholeness and healing, and it occurs, naturally, when you know how to care for your body. The reason exercise is critical is that it oxygenates the body; and oxygen is as vital as nutrition and water. Most all physical exercise, walking, running, cycling, etc., can boost your mood and sense of well-being. It works by releasing an array of feel-good hormones in the body. Clients often hear this therapist say, “exercise is free therapy” between sessions. It is not only nature’s “pill” for depression, it has no side effects. Exercise is to the body, what the refresh button is to your computer.
7. Keep doing what worked before to cope and alleviate stress.
What a stressor like this comes up that disrupts your routines, many stop doing the things they knew work. If journaling was a great tool to lower stress, keep making your entries. If practicing gratitude lifts your spirit and keeps you focused, embrace the practice again. Get outdoors, get some sunshine, stay active and get plenty of sleep, all that you can do to maintain a healthy mind and body.
8. Reach out to family and friends, and thanks to social media, it’s easy.
They are likely feeling anxious too. Sharing your feelings, thoughts, time and resources can put all of you at ease. Choose things to do that connect you with what you most value, volunteer or donate if possible. the point is to put thought into how you most want to spend time, whether time alone, and time together with loved ones. Your physical health is connected to the extent you improve your capacity to form life enriching relationships with others, and as a foundation, with yourself.
9. Connect to what you’re feeling and address ‘how’ you deal with stress.
It’s not easy to accept interruptions. Learn and practice connecting to your emotions, practice mindfulness and meditation, compassion with yourself and others. Feel any disappointment, hurt, grief. It’s good to feel your feelings, but learn how to give these small chunks of time, planned time if possible, and resolve to not let upsetting emotions consume your mind and day. Learn to practice doing what is within your power to do, and letting go of what is not yours to control. (Find a copy of the Serenity Prayer and post this on your refrigerator. It’s a wonderful formula to boost your energy and wellbeing.)
10. Energize an optimistic outlook to enhance your resiliency, peace of mind and wellbeing.
In addition to promoting personal growth and life-satisfaction, positive emotions nourish the brain and body, and have been linked to creativity, resiliency, performance, and the formation of healthy relationships. In contrast, pessimism is linked to depression, learned helplessness, repeated mistakes, and serious health conditions, such as heart, cancer and higher risk for PTSD.
In sum, anxiety and panic disorders may not be life threatening, however, they can significantly affect your quality of life, especially when they lead to taking desperate and fear-based actions to cope, such as drinking, anger outbursts, avoidance, among other unproductive or problem causing ways of handling fear. If you have symptoms of anxiety and, or panic attack, see a professional. While intensely uncomfortable, they are not dangerous, just need to know and practice ways of connecting and directing your fear response. Hopefully, you will find that, once you better understand and process fear, your level of fear lowers and issues quickly respond in most cases.
Your subconscious mind, believe it or not, is your most devoted, forever on earth friend, a loyal-to-you-alone companion. It’s highest interest is for you to thrive, in wellness and happiness. It knows you are a social being, with critical need to learn to connect and relate to yourself and others in healthy and balanced, to practice self and other empathy and compassion is no small task. It is a life long endeavor.