You are living through a global pandemic. Your fears have triggered an increase in brain arousal preparing your body to respond to the threat. Your system is adapting and attempting to restore balance, a process that is much easier once the threat is over. A continuing threat, like a global pandemic with severe economic and societal consequences, will exhaust your systems. Your body, heart, mind and spirit systems will begin to break down if the effects from the prolonged fear state are not mitigated.
Is your health being compromised? Are you experiencing…
- Disruptions in your sleep cycle or eating routine?
- Heart or gut issues?
- Immune, endocrine or nervous system dysfunction?
- Mood swings, anxiety or depression?
- Feeling removed from yourself and your feelings?
- Obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors?
- Bitterness, confusion or despair?
If you are experiencing any of these effects it is time to take action to restore balance and establish a new normal for managing the current environment.
Working with individuals’ fears before the global pandemic was largely work with irrational fears, those conditioned self imposed limitations we all place upon ourselves. Overcoming these types of fears is often a process of reconditioning the physiological response and forming new muscle memory in the body. There are many techniques for this and practices in mindfulness that are helpful. Raising consciousness, developing your skills with “mind over matter”, the matter being your own body, and working with presence are all ways that one can take action to overcome irrational fear. But what about reality based fear?
How do you answer the call to action, and the whole of humanity is being called at this time, when your fears are triggered and they are reality based? When there is a real threat to your survival, body integrity, autonomy, connection to loved one’s and community, how do you calm your body’s flight, flight or freeze reaction to be able to manage your day to day life and keep it moving forward?
The same principles and practices utilized for irrational fears can be helpful with reality based fears with a couple distinct differences that must be addressed. Once a fear response has been triggered in your body it is your memory and higher level decision making that kick in to calm the heightened arousal of your body reaction and the feeling of anxiety that is evoked when fear is triggered.
But, this is a new virus within humanity and a new experience for all of us. There is no memory to access individually or even in the collective consciousness relative to the pandemic and unfolding consequences. So your mind goes to “I am in the unknown and this threat is unfamiliar”. How comfortable are you with facing unfamiliar threats, uncertainty and unknowns? This will play a big part in how well you are coping with the stress of the present reality.
Developing comfort and confidence within yourself as you face the unknown, is an essential skill right now to mitigate the body effects of being in a prolonged fear state. Ways to develop this skill are engaging activities that connect you to your curiosity and wonder. Explore and learn new things. Open to new and different perspectives. Engaging life in this way will help you to develop comfort and confidence facing the unknown and it will mitigate the potential health consequences of the current reality.
The second facet of calming the body once a fight, flight or freeze response has been triggered, is utilizing your higher level reasoning. This too is challenged as there are no preconceived solutions or protocols that have been effectively utilized for the challenges being presented at this time. Our rational, reasoning brain will seek to find a “solution” to the problem and it is not there. It needs to be discovered and created.
Thus, just as you must face the unknown, you must also find new solutions to challenges if you are to mitigate the negative stress effects of a prolonged fear state. As I consistently say, change is a constant and energy is always moving in a creative or a destructive direction. Many people in the world have responded to the threat with a burst of inspiration and innovation to find the needed solutions to the health, economic and societal problems being presented within humanity. They have responded creatively and are mitigating the effects.
The point is, that this is a time to engage your creativity. It doesn’t mean you need to solve all the problems occuring in the world or even in your life. But engaging this part of your being and your brain will promote health while countering the negative effects of your fear. It will place you in a creative flow of energy that will support your movement forward through all the challenges that you are facing. As well as placing you in the flow of humanity that is building the new normal of tomorrow.
UTILIZING MINDFULNESS to OVERCOME PANDEMIC FEARS
The Coronavirus Global Pandemic is provoking all types of fears within humanity. Recognizing and facing the fears being triggered will assist you in mitigating the negative consequences to your health and well being.
Fear is universal. We all experience it, with some very rare exceptions and we all have the same types of fears.
Looking at Dr. Albrecht’s identification of these 5 types, they are: 1. Extinction, 2. Mutilation of Bodily Invasion, 3. Loss of Autonomy, 4.Separation, Abandonment or Rejection, and 5.Humilation, Shame or Worthlessness. All 5 types of fears are triggered within humanity by the current events and we are all impacted.
Practicing mindfulness to identify your fear reactions from an observer perspective places you in a position of empowerment over your fear. Observation alone can have a positive effect and it is the beginning point of developing “mind over matter” to calm your body’s heightened state of arousal.
Take a look at the following list of 5 types of fear and how the pandemic is triggering these fears within humanity. Identify your own fear that has been triggered and observe the effect it is having on your systems.
Being in a global pandemic with masses of people dying from a virus that is yet to be understood, there is the reality of a threat to one’s most fundamental survival. Humanities fear of extinction and existential anxiety has been triggered at a global level.
MUTILATION OR BODILY INVASION
We are in a health crisis with a virus that has unknown and potentially deadly health effects. The fear of germs and having our body’s boundaries invaded by this threat is triggered. With Covid-19 being highly contagious person to person, this poses the risk of people developing a fear of other people as well.
LOSS OF AUTONOMY
The pandemic has made it essential for the health and safety of humanity to have restrictions taking away individual autonomy. The lockdowns, social distancing and quarantines, remove the normal freedoms you are accustomed to. This can trigger the fear of being controlled by circumstances that are beyond your control. And with the economic depression created as a secondary crisis the fear of financial insecurity is a real threat for many.
SEPARATION, ABANDONMENT OR REJECTION
Human beings are social creatures and we all have needs for human contact, relationships, family and community. The forced separation from your loved ones and usual in person human connection is triggering this type of fear. People in need have lost access to resources and may feel abandoned. People are in fear reactions and disagreements on how to handle the crisis. This is creating suspicion and rejection amongst individuals.
HUMILIATION, SHAME OR WORTHLESSNESS
This type of fear is the most superficial fear of your “ego” or your sense of integrity of self. Superficial doesn’t mean inconsequential. Being in a new world environment, you must adjust your sense of who you are relative to the changes. This adjustment period has the potential to provoke a plethora of micro fears as you find your footing and self empowerment in this new environment.