A recent tweet from Eckhart Tolle states – ‘Unease, anxiety, tensions, stress, worry – all forms of fear – caused by too much future, and not enough presence.’
During these times it can be hard to find the positives and to be in the present whilst we try to get our heads around Covid- 19 and make the adjustments that would help us cope with such abrupt changes to our lives. It’s required a surrender that we are not accustomed to. A lot of us may feel like we are simply existing, just going through groundhog day, whilst experiencing a mixed bag of emotions and moods swings, such as sadness, grief, anger, anxiety, uncertainty and even discomfort at times. This can make us continually look into the future creating fear based thoughts of ‘What If?’
The stress of the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the limbic system in our brain to stimulate our survival system, by creating a surge of hormones to zoom into our brain and nervous system. The survival brain at this point has been feeling overwhelmed and is not sure whether to pick “flight, flight or freeze”, so cycles through all of them trying to work out which one is best for us. Each one causes significant effects to our wellbeing; “freeze” in particular will make us feel sad and ambivalence. Daily we are exposed to new or changing information from the news and social media outlets or conversations of concern with our loved ones.
Here’s 3 ways you can help yourself to manage the effects of the survival cycle:
A great way to help manage this cycle we are going through is to practice Mindfulness meditation each day. Mindfulness helps reboot the nervous system; helps release what we are holding in our bodies; and helps alleviate the anxiety we are experiencing physically and emotionally. Let’s not forget our feelings and emotions are validated and it is important to give ourselves the time, space, compassion, self care and nurturing it needs. It’s ok to not be ok with the emotions – we can all struggle with them. Try to observe and acknowledge the emotion when it comes, welcome it with open arms, and then allow it to dissipate with your self compassion and then finally let it go. This helps us gain understanding into our needs right now without self judgement.
I can suggest several mindfulness apps that you can download to help you:
- Stop Breath & Think
- Insight Timer
With such easy access to information on social and news media, we can end up getting drawn into article after article, post after post, link after link about Covid-19 until our heads are in a big panic bubble. To try and calm the cycle of the survival brain and regain a sense of control by easing our anxiety, simply switch off or silence our notifications and only have access to official information such as the NHS or Public Health. This will help prevent unnecessary triggers of anxiety, plus you will have peace and quiet from all the notifications going ping!!
Practicing gratitude and feeling grateful can also help lift our mood and feelings of happiness. Keeping a little gratitude journal each day can seem tedious but it really works. Try making a habit of jotting down things at different times of day, for example, in the morning journal “Today I am grateful for…” or “What would make today a good day…”; and at night before bed consider “The three best things that happened today…” or “The three things I am grateful for today…”. I might seem like a bit of a faff, but I promise you it works!
Finally, don’t forget it’s OK to ask for help in the current circumstances! Things will get better but right now we must try to communicate with each other, support ourselves and each other, and most importantly try to focus on today, the present, and not the potential “What Ifs” of the future.
You got this!!
Much Love and a big virtual Hug,