March 2, 2022
Pandemics are in no way relaxing, no matter how you choose to spin it. Over the last couple of years the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to figure out new ways to adjust to life in quarantine, as well as coping with increased levels of anxiety and stress.
We’ve all been turned on our heads, so to speak, with kids homeschooling, working from home instead of commuting to the office and skyrocketing food and housing costs
While trying to stay safe, protect loved ones, and reduce the spread of COVID-19, we have now been hit with whispers of a world war and a dubious climate change report that have left us uneasily wondering, “What could possibly happen next?”
According to Lauren Murray, a clinical psychologist and associate scientist at Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health in the Department of Mental Health and International Health, our emotional responses to the pandemic and the negativity in the news can actually trigger physiological fear responses in that help us prepare to be more efficient in a dangerous situation: our pupils dilate, our breathing accelerates and our heart rate and blood pressure rise.
Murray says that in the face of fear, we might turn to different behavioral patterns than normal (like loading up on toilet paper) and seeing others panic shopping will prompt us - as social creatures- to mimic this behavior.
Fear manifests in all of us in different ways. And, one Brene Brown quote that really hits home is - What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.
So how do we manage fear?
1. Say YES to it. Acknowledging your fear will show you that you definitely aren’t the only one who is struggling with the same anxiety and your vulnerability opens a door for real human connections.
2. Shine light on it. Once you openly admit that you ARE scared, you strip the power away from the haters and also your biggest critic - YOU. If the only thing people have against you is your own fear, then choosing to bring that shame or fear into the light eliminates anyone’s ability to harm you anymore. Actually, when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, people actually have a tendency to like you more.
3. Rationalize it. We’ve come a long way from caveperson days, when all our brains really cared about were: A) Can I eat it? No. B)Can I have sex with it? Absolutely not. C) Is it about to eat me? Uh oh…RUN! Aside from the online dating scene where this 10,000 year old flight response is potentially still in existence for good reason…nowadays we are living in a safe and much more comfortable world. So, how do you rationalize things you are afraid of in today’s day and age? Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Once you think clearly about every possible outcome in the scenario, chances are it will not be as bad as having your legs chewed off by a giant hyena.
4. Starve it. There is literally nothing worse than letting fear ruminate. Think of your last bikini wax. Were you in a cold sweat before “Tanya” even entered the room? But in 15 minutes it was all over and you left thinking, “That wasn’t so bad.” Fear breeds over time and gathers momentum which gives it more power over you and your choices. So, cut off its power with inspired action. Dale Carnegie says,
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
I couldn’t agree more.