When we are overly fearful and panicky, we are stuck in the emotional or mid-brain where it is challenging to make good decisions. But when we are experiencing feelings of equanimity or calm, we more easily access the frontal lobes, where the “executive” functions of the brain--planning, judgement, and problem solving--take place. Granted, it can be challenging to experience feelings of peace when social media and the news are constantly broadcasting worst case scenarious. However, it is well worth your while to attempt to soothe your nerves with practices which will create the ability to be present and respond rather than react.
One way to encourage a state of calm is to practice Mindfulness or meditation. Practitioners of Mindfulness learn to be present in the moment, choose how to respond, and are able to observe thoughts, rather than be controlled by them. A simple way to meditate is by choosing an area of focus—such as the breath or a candle flame. Ideally, one would find a quiet place, without disturbance and then either observe one’s inhalation and exhalation or watch a candle flame. While a good goal is to attempt to quiet the mind, this is very challenging. It is more important to try to be the observer of one’s thoughts, rather than getting caught up in them. If you notice yourself drifting from your anchor (breath or candle flame) kindly refocus your attention. Practice will make one better and better at catching when the mind has wandered you off. If you would like to know more about the practice of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, I recommend the book Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabbat-Zinn. He is a medical doctor and one of the pioneers of Mindfulness. Another great resource is Insight Timer (InsightTimer.com), a free app with thousands of Mindfulness and guided meditations.
Another way to increase calm or confidence is to practice affirmations. Affirmations are a short, positive statement of a goal you would like to achieve or something you would like to see happen or change. Practiced consistently, they counteract fears and negativity. You can write your own or look some up online. Below, I’ve provided affirmations geared towards soothing the fears created by COVID-19. I suggest reciting these aloud while listening to calming music in a quiet environment. It is helpful to recite each one at least twice and on a daily basis.
Uncertain times are tough. But humanity is resilient and with a little planning and strategic, safe behavior, we will get through this. Take good care of yourself, your loved ones and your communities.
· I know the difference between my intuition and fear.
· My intuition is a powerful ally during times of uncertainty.
· I have the internal resources to make the best decisions for myself and my family.
· Creativity and ingenuity are available to me all the time.
· I employ creative solutions to enhance the wellbeing of my family and my community.
· I encounter many opportunities to collaborate with others to find creative solutions and enhance the wellbeing of my family and my community.
· I have knowledge, talents and skills I can contribute during this challenging time.
· I naturally gravitate towards options that will ensure the health and safety of my family and my community.
· I am mindful of how my decisions and actions affect my health and the health of my family and my community.
· I can take time to address my own needs.
· When I feel panicky, I make time to breathe deeply and practice a grounding or soothing activity.
· When I take time for quiet reflection, I know the next right steps to take.
· There are people I can ask for help and advice: my family, my neighbors, healers or spiritual mentors
· I find safe ways to provide encouragement to someone else today.
· The healing power of nature is always available.
· Crisis provides the opportunity for change for the better.
· Helpfulness and kindness often increase during hard times.
· All things pass and this will too.
· Balance will be restored.