So, when I read the blog from the BC Epilepsy Society, it caused me to reflect back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t take a lot of time to remember the fear that permeated our community and the emotional responses to the Novel Coronavirus:
- Hoarding toilet paper, Clorox wipes and prescription medication.
- Anger in grocery stores aisles, on the sidewalks, and at the beach.
- Panic when we saw headlines from around the world.
When we are confronted with something new and uncertain, we can sometimes find ourselves looking for absolutes — black or white answers in a world of grey — this is when fear predominates our mind and limits our resourcefulness. Fear reactions are not unexpected. However, it has the potential to take over when we don’t have all of the answers or understand what may come next.
As the BC Epilepsy blog post so eloquently stated, “It is important to recognize that a place of fear may not be the best place for you right now.” We can’t find our way out of the pandemic if we can’t think properly.
We need to be looking for ways to empower ourselves with rational thought, moving out of the realm of fear and into a space where we can be calm, adaptable, productive and hopeful.
Take a look at the following Venn diagram which outlines three possible cognitive / emotional states when we are dealing with COVID-19. Take the time to read the descriptors in each of the three identified areas:
- FEAR ZONE
- LEARNING ZONE
- GROWTH ZONE
Did you read them? No, you didn’t. I can tell. Now, go back and read them. It’s worth the time to reflect on ourselves and where we are right now.
During uncertain times like COVID-19, many of us start in the FEAR ZONE, but we need to move into the LEARNING ZONE and hopefully the GROWTH ZONE. And it’s not necessarily a linear progression. Be cognizant of the fact that we can bounce back and forth as we are confronted with new facts and new realities.
If you find yourself in the Fear Zone — recognize it. Acknowledge it and work to find ways to re-centre yourself — EMPOWER yourself — to move along the continuum to the Learning Zone and then the Growth Zone. Be aware when you slide back work to move forward again.
Solutions are found to today’s most pressing problems when we are calm, patient and creative — NOT when we are in a state of fear.
Here are some great ways to help empower you when you find yourself in unfamiliar and uncertain times — when you’re stuck and filled with fear:
Practice Self-Care, Mindfulness and Relaxation
- When we are physically and mentally exhausted we are less able to deal with stress.
- Find the time for an activity you enjoy — focus on the positive.
- Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present — eliminate the distractions around you and focus on the now.
- Immerse yourself in your senses and focus on what you can feel, smell, touch, hear and see around you.
- Relaxation techniques can aid in positive thinking, concentration, memory and decision making as well as having a calmer and clearer mind.
- Do some yoga.
Get Enough Sleep – And Keep it Regular
- Sleep is that miracle fix that really makes a difference (look for a future blog post on it — there’s some really cool evidence out there on how powerful it can be).
- Even when you are feeling overwhelmed, try sticking to a regular sleep routine and getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Get Some Exercise – Outdoors if Possible
- Exercise is important for both physical health and mental well-being.
- Exercise increases your endorphin levels which elevate your mood. Even a walk or hike is awesome.
- Get outdoors — Mother Nature is always there to make things better.
And finally, remember this …
You WILL get through this pandemic.
HOW you get through it really depends on you and your mindset.