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One of the natural responses to a global pandemic is a manifestation of fear.
This can take many different forms, including:
>> Old traumatic events resurfacing with all the power of the original event
>> Sudden panic or anxiety with no apparent cause
>> Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and feelings
>> Exaggerated fear of people
>> Exaggerated fear of illness
>> Addictive behaviors
>> Feelings of loss, loneliness, or being ignored
>> Sudden flood of grief, sadness, or anger
The first thing to remember is that there is nothing wrong with you. These are normal responses to this event. Be aware that these feelings are arising in you because it is appropriate. Try not to hold on to them or make too much of them. Let them be what they are, and do not blame or judge yourself for them.
You have not done anything wrong. You are simply feeling what a human feels at a time like this.
There are many different techniques that can help you clear out an abundance of fear. Below are some of the tools that I have found to be most useful.
1. Ask a Different Question (Thanks to Hale Dwoskin)
When your mind thinks, “Why is this happening?” try one of these questions instead:
“How can I let this go?”
“How can I find my courage?”
This gives your brain a better problem to focus on solving.
2. Realignment Exercise (Thanks to Matt Kahn)
- Sit in a quiet place and pay attention to your breath for a couple of minutes to calm your nervous system.
- Think of a number of things you are grateful for.
- Think of a few things you have done right today.
- Think about several things you are excited for in the future.
3. Be Present
Try to stay in the present moment. As best you can, try not to think about the past or the future but just what is happening right now. One way to do this is to feel the sensations in your body.
Sit or lie down and pay attention to the sensations in each part of your body. Try to pay attention to nothing else. Another way is to become aware of all your senses. Notice what you see, hear, and smell at the moment. Practicing a grounding exercise can also help keep you present.
A powerful way to be more present is to be creative. This can help greatly. Do any creative act that can keep you in the now.
Get a journal and write in it. Write what you are thinking about—but mostly, write how you are feeling.
If you are feeling fear, then write in the journal that you are feeling fear. I find it helpful sometimes to write the word “FEAR” in capital letters. The more you can write down that you are feeling afraid, the less afraid you will be.
“I am feeling the emotion of FEAR right now.”
“I am experiencing the emotion of FEAR right now.”
“I am feeling AFRAID right now.”
“I am feeling SCARED right now.”
This distances you from the emotion you are experiencing and helps you to see it as the transient feeling that it is.
You can make up your own. Whatever feels true for you.
5. Feel your Fear (up to a point)
One of the biggest causes of fear is fear of fear. So, when you try not to feel your fear, it can often cause it to grow. It can help to allow it to be there for a while. Sometimes you will find that not running from the fear inside will cause it to diminish.
If you are completely overwhelmed by the emotion of fear, it could be good to distract yourself in some way. Then, when you feel able to, come back to feeling it. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the feeling. Be gentle with yourself.
6. Dance, Sing, and Play Music as Much as Possible
If you cannot sing or play an instrument, put on some music and dance. If you think you cannot dance, then just move about. You can’t do it wrong. This might be the time to try to learn a simple instrument like a tin whistle, recorder, drum, or harmonica.
7. Be Creative
Creativity can move stuck fear, so paint, write, sew, knit, make sand castles, use crayons, clay, collage—any creative act you can think of. The point is to express something and get the energy out of you.
You could make patterns in the dirt or sand with a stick. Make buildings out of toothpicks and glue. There are no limits to what you can try.
Think of the worst people in the world. Anyone who you hate or you feel is evil or who has wronged you. Now sit in a quiet place and go deep within yourself and spend a couple minutes forgiving each one of them. Understand that they are simply doing the best they can with their limited view and abilities.
When you forgive, you free up your energy to help support you rather than hinder you. You do not forgive others for their benefit. You forgive them for your own health and well-being.
Forgiveness helps you. When you do not forgive others, you are helping them to continue to hurt you. When you do not forgive, you lose. So forgive and experience the emotional and health benefits.
Try these practices one at a time and see how they work for you. If you don’t get the results you want the first time, it doesn’t necessarily mean the tool won’t work for you. Most of these techniques have a cumulative effect, so try one for several days and then see if it is showing benefits. If you do these practices on a consistent basis, they can help you reduce your excess fear.
Everything you need to get started is here.