Our brain is designed to scout for danger. We perceive the virus as danger. The media’s job is to sell news. The virus is a great seller. These two things coupled together are startling our brains and causing us to stop deliberately thinking and be more reactive, and for some of us, to panic. Our brains are not designed for a constant feed of danger. It is causing our brains to become startled, so we need to feed it with other things, normal things to even it up. Balance the news up with mindful activities, day to day activities, exercise, stress relieving activities, playing a game with your child, reading a good book.
Worry and overwhelm feel like they are necessary. But they are not. They are not useful or helpful. It stops us from managing our brains and seeing clearly. You can make decisions from a place of compassion, love and calm, and not from panic. This is a time we feel out of control around schools closing, stock markets, work, travel and toilet paper. When we feel out of control, we stop deliberate thinking on purpose. This causes chaos in our brain. We have to start thinking on purpose.
Our feelings are caused from the way we think about the facts of the situation. A fact is that the coronavirus is in the UK. We can choose the way we think about it. For example, we won’t survive it without toilet paper. Or, we can think that this is a time to be resilient, creative and will make us stronger. We can decide how we can help others in the community to maintain a sense of calm, including our children.
We will experience a range of emotions through this time. This is part of being a human being and a normal part of our human experience. Don’t push the feelings away. Let them in. Expect them. Talk about them. Write the sentences in your head down on paper. Breathe through them.
The alternative is avoiding them by drinking or eating too much which then leads to further negative emotion and negative consequences. The other alternative is resisting them. Resisting is using will power and is like holding a beach ball under water. Eventually the beach ball will pop up, as will emotions which will be snappy and reactive. Probably with your loved ones. If avoiding and resisting our feelings worked, we would be all in. But these techniques do not work. The feelings do not go away. They compound, and we suffer.
I invite you, at this time, not to look around at others to decide how to feel. Step back and decide how you want to think about this. You get to decide what you want to think about the current situation. It’s ok to make the decision to be calm right now. Calmness will help you respond and not react. It will help you make decisions and come up with ideas by using your best wisdom and creativity.
If we ‘close down’ our brains freak out. We will indulge in worry and overwhelm, which is not helpful or useful. If we open up to our humanity and choose how we want to think, we will respond and not react in a situation. We will generate useful emotions of love, compassion and calm for our families, friends and communities and not panic, worry or overwhelm. Now is the time to manage our minds and not let them freak out.
· Balance out the news on the virus with mindful activities – when you don’t think about it, you get on with life.
· Step back – decide how you want to think about this – what is useful? Remember a feeling of calm will make you more creative, produce good ideas from your best wisdom.
· Feel your feelings – it is part of being a human being to experience feelings of stress at this time. Let them in. Expect them. Don’t avoid or resist them. Talk about them.
· Ask yourself some great questions e.g. how can I use this as a way to strengthen my relationship with my children? How can I keep my family safe as well as contributing to the community? How can I use this to grow?
You've got this everyone!