Be Kind
Be kind
March 15, 2020
Sanitizing my Mind
Sanitising my mind
April 1, 2020

Managing our Fears

Managing our fears

It’s a scary time. Covid 19 means it is not business as usual, nor indeed life as usual. All uncertainty fuels worry and fear and with so much uncertainty right now, having strategies for managing our fears is vital.

Healthwise, I don’t consider I’m in a high-risk category but my parents are. So many aspects of life we took for granted are now being questioned. Not being able to visit my parents and support them as my Dad deals with chemo treatment and pancreatic cancer is the toughest aspect of it all for me.

From a business perspective, most client engagements have understandably been cancelled, and like many small business owners, I’m only too aware of the pressures on cash flow. In these challenging times, I’m digging deep and using all the tools at my disposal to manage my mindset and I want to share them with you.

Managing our Fears

Managing our Fears. Step Up

Step Up

In a world that appears frightening, it’s time for those of us who have done the personal development work, who have a wider perspective to step up and step forward.

Those of us who believe in inclusion, not exclusion, what we are for, not what we are against, who try to see the good in people, the beauty, harmony, generosity, kindness and abundance in the world, even, or rather especially in dark times.

We commit to the cause of spreading love as opposed to fear and hysteria. We know that ultimately we are a single species sharing a human experience.

Managing your fears. Who do I want to be in this situation?

Who do I want to be in this situation?

Rather than focusing on what I should do, take the thinking to a higher perspective and ask – who do I want to be in this situation? In other words, what qualities, traits, characteristics do I want to lean into or bring to the fore. Get the being bit right and the doing will follow.

Right now, my aim is to be rational, calm, hopeful, balanced, resilient, trusting. Identifying how you want to show up allows you to set your intention for how you want to engage with the world.

 

Manage your fears. Filter the inputs

Filter the inputs

There’s no doubt the news is scary. I take a deep breath before switching it on or clicking an article. Information and ‘news’ is a commodity and like all commodities, we have to control what we need.

A 24-hour news channel droning away in the background is route one to higher stress levels. Each of us has to figure out where the line is between staying informed and being overwhelmed by an incessant media stream. Sensationalist headlines, dramatic music and graphics do not aid my well-being.

I’m also very careful about what’s getting my attention on social media. There are so many good news stories being shared (#caremongering is my current favourite!) and the social media platforms are fantastic for staying connected especially at this time of social distancing. But as we know social media is also a quagmire of fake news and hysteria. The Gandhi quote ‘I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet’ remains my guide when it comes to social media.

Manage your fears. Connecting with inner stillness

Connecting with inner stillness

In a crazy external world, we find balance by connecting with our inner stillness. For many months, I’ve started my day with a morning routine of yoga and meditation. It resources me, makes me feel good and helps me to enter the day resourced and grounded in my well-being. I tune into myself, my wisdom, my spirit, before I tune into any media. I will connect with my ‘inner net’ before I switch on the internet.

Gone are the days when having strategies for managing my state and well-being were optional, now they are essential. The App I click most frequently is InsightTimer, it’s a free resource with thousands of meditations, courses, talks and music. There’s also plenty of specific resources for managing anxiety at this time of uncertainty.

Manage your fears. Eject the movies in my head

Eject the movies in my head

There is a sense that we are living in a movie, something between Deep Impact and World War Z. However, we run movies in our heads all the time. Images of a catastrophic future, of pain and suffering. Our emotional response in our bodies cannot distinguish between what we are visualising in our minds and what’s actually happening to us in the present moment.

Over the last three years as I dealt with my own health challenges, something I had to learn the hard way was that when my mind is in overdrive is to ask myself the question – is this real (happening to me through my senses in the present) or is it a movie I’m running in my head? It’s usually the latter, a movie with the theme of negative anticipation. Common sense would say, if we are playing a movie, often on loop, and that movie makes me stressed, then eject the movie.

But we can only eject it when we know we are playing it. In challenging times we have to balance our basest emotional instincts with rationality because unchecked irrational fear is the most dangerous virus on the planet.

Manage your fears. Triage Self Care

Triage Self Care

When my mind is fantasizing, galloping into a dystopian future and I can sense my heart racing, my stomach tight, my breath stuck in my chest, and I’m on the slippery slope to panic, I need some immediate triage techniques for re-centering myself.

  • First, I recognise my pattern, observe the sensations in my body, acknowledge them and breathe into them. When I do this, I’m getting to the witness position. I repeat to myselfI don’t have anxiety, anxiety is visiting me, but I can breathe at this moment and I am in charge.
  • To ground me in the present, the only place where I have control and where I feel my emotions, I’ll use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. I’ll name 5 things around me that I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can touch, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. It brings my attention to the present and out of my racing mind.
  • I’ll follow the above with a technique called square breathing. It always calms me down. I’ll breathe into the count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 4 and hold for a count of 4, before inhaling again for another round. I’ll keep repeating this until I feel more resourced.

We will all feel scared, it’s part of being human. Feeling scared doesn’t have to be an inhibiter, it can be an indicator for us to grow as a person and to be proud of ourselves. Let’s remember that fear is an acronym for ‘face everything and rise.’

We can retreat into ourselves or look within and resource ourselves. We might have to create physical distance between us, but we can choose to reduce emotional distance. We can view this time of cocooning as a reset, a growing pain, with something new and beautiful emerging both individually and collectively.

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