Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Most of you deep down probably know how to manage stress, nevertheless you still find yourself experiencing a sense of overwhelm, anxiety, or even panic. So here is a harmless reminder that I've put together explaining what happens to your brain when it is faced with a threat, and how you can take action to preserve your wellbeing during this very challenging time.
Alarm bells are ringing!
When faced with threat or danger, the amygdala ( a tiny part of the brain located in towards the middle) sets off alarm bells alerting you to prepare for action or survival. A set of physical and emotional superpowers kick in preparing your body for combat (also known as the fight, fight or freeze response). In this heightened state, the smart and rational part of your brain (known as the prefrontal cortex) is overridden.
Usually, when the threat or danger passes, a remarkable recovery is made, and life goes back to normal.
The problem is, when there is no end date or solution to a looming threat like Coronavirus, the alarm bell in your brain keeps on ringing, and gets louder and louder. And despite the fact that you are actually ok right now, your mind keeps telling you that you are in danger.
In this heightened state, the rational part of your brain ( the pre-frontal cortex) is now fully hijacked, and starts to behave poorly. Exhausted from being on constant high alert, you become reactive, irrational, indecisive and even aggressive.
Anxiety has well and truely kicked in, but worse, so has panic.
And even if you were feeling calm, you begin to second guess yourself because you are sandwiched in the midst of a panic storm.
Far more contagious than any other virus, is anxiety and panic.
So just when we you need to be your strongest mentally and physically to fight off winter bugs and viruses, you have fallen prey to fear, and become vulnerable, weakened and irrational.
How can you stop the cycle?
Now is the time to make time, to pause and ground yourself.
Firstly, remind yourself that in this moment, right now, you are most likely ok. The more time you reside in worrisome futuristic thoughts, and ’what if’s’, the more susceptible you become to feeling anxious.
Purposely pause and follow your breath for a few minutes. This is the fastest and most powerful way to calm and repair your nervous system.
Slowing down your breathing, and observing your breath, anchors you back into present moment awareness.
Practice my diaphragmatic breathing exercise here.
Do a Mindful Meditation Practice
Mindful meditation is a skill that develops attention regulation. With practice you become more proficient at unhooking yourself from negative, worrisome or fearful thinking and having more control over where you choose to rest your attention.
Mindfulness develops an innate awareness that helps you take control of your stress, rather than stress controlling you.
It offers you the resources to navigate and bounce back from challenges with more ease and equilibrium.
Helps calm your mind so you can gain perspective and navigate life with more wisdom and compassion.
Finally, reach out and give back.
Everyone right now is experiencing some level of emotional, financial economic or physical hardship. From doctors and health carers, to the delivery drivers and supermarket assistants; teachers, businesses and leaders - everyone is trying to navigate an overwhelming challenge. Be patient, be kind and caring.
Start by taking care of yourself, so you can be present for others.
And remember, this to will pass.