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  • Juna Mustad

6 Potent Ways to Better Manage Your Fear in a COVID-19 World

Feeling the fear?

I am.


It woke me up at 5am this morning and I couldn't go back to sleep. My fear feels like a clenching fist in the center of my body right now, and I also feel it pulsating like a dense and growing cloud in the collective.


I feel the fear as I look in people's eyes at the grocery store, I feel the fear in the news & social media, and I hear the growing fear in my family's voices as I talk to them on the phone.


The questions I keep asking myself are, "What could I be doing right now? And how can I best manage my fear?" I keep coming back to the basics of emotional intelligence and reminding myself of this:


"Emotions are like children, we don't want to let them drive the car

and we certainly don't want to stuff them in the trunk either."


The truth is, if I allow myself to get swept away by the fear-trance and hysteria, I literally lose contact with my wise, aware pre-frontal cortex (the rational part of the brain) and my Fear ends up driving the car. This process is commonly called an "amygdala hijack."


What we know, via neuroscience & mindfulness, is that when the amygdala and these lower regions of the brain start to drive the car, we are no longer rational, adult humans anymore, instead we are reactive children engaging in either the fight, flight or freeze response.


FIGHT RESPONSE:

Finger-pointing & blaming, racism, xenophobia & aggression towards people of Asian descent, a willingness to wrestle someone at the store for the last hand sanitizer


FLIGHT RESPONSE:

Frantically stockpiling enough toilet paper, food and household goods to last you a year, hiding in your bedroom/house in terror


FREEZE RESPONSE:

Feeling immobilized by this event, unable to respond appropriately, feeling numb, denial



I want to be informed and aware, not driven by fear.


And, at the same time, I don't want to stuff my fear in the trunk... by going into denial about the huge implications of this virus spreading around the world.



Today, and each day I will be practicing these 6 different things:


1) Deep, slow breathing (which engages the parasympathetic nervous system and as a result can soothe us out of the fight, flight or freeze response)


2) Sticking to the facts, not sensationalized stories


3) Checking the news once daily in order to be informed, but not engaging in obsessive news consumption (in order to maintain a healthy nervous system)


4) Reaching out to neighbors, the elderly and friends to create a support network for when/if the virus comes to my neighborhood


5) Washing my hands regularly & boosting my immune system with Vitamin C, probiotics, zinc, echinacea, and sitting out in the sun 20 min. a day to get a good boost of Vitamin D


6) Asking myself regularly, "Whose driving the car right now? Is it Me or is it Fear?" Reminding myself that when fear is driving I am pretty much useless to myself and those around me.



What are you practicing to help you stay grounded in the face of fear? I'd love to hear.


Lastly, I'll share this....

From Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an Infectious Diseases Specialist:


"I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let's meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing. Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts."


Sending so much love to all of you.


Facts not fear. Open Hearts.

Juna