What to do when you panic about coronavirus (Part 2)
“Calm the fuck down!”
Several times I have seen this phrase written on colourful backgrounds of social media posts since the terror about coronavirus has clutched the world. Since people are self-isolating, social distancing and panic buying. And we all fear for our own lives and those of the ones we love.
And you know what? Me, personally, I would love to calm down.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up and realise it was all over? To find the threat of coronavirus disappeared over night.
And with it our inability to breathe. Or to focus on anything but the looming catastrophe. We wish for nothing more than to stroll into a sunny, new dawn with a light heart and a peaceful mind.
Knowing we are safe. And all is well in the world.
But it’s not that time yet.
And for those of us who struggled with anxiety and panic attacks before the pandemic, the current level of fear becomes unbearable.
Everything is changing yet again every few hours. We are overwhelmed by uncertainty. And a constant feeling of dread chokes us.
We try our best to keep functioning in a world that is now devoid of routine.
But we can’t eat because our stomach is too tight with anxiety. We can’t sleep, our mind ruminating endlessly, tormented by worries and fears. And we barely hold it together during the day.
And nobody knows how long this nightmare will continue.
So, what can we do to stop our emotional health from imploding? And the anxiety from swallowing us whole?
What can we do to calm the fuck down?
Why do you feel so scared?
Many of us are used to anxiety.
Every day, we pretend to be fine at work while the prospect of the company team building event shreds our intestines. Week after week, we beat ourselves up for our pathetic weakness when everybody else takes life in their stride.
Anxiety is a constant struggle. And we merely exist, rather than live, under fear’s relentless tyranny.
And let’s face it: It sucks.
But still, the level of sheer panic many of us experience right now is unprecedented. For one simple reason.
We experience both anxiety and fear simultaneously.
And they are two different things altogether.
Let me explain.
The little-known difference between fear and anxiety
You see, under normal circumstances, anxiety results from excessive internal pressure in our energy system that is high enough to be harmful. This internal pressure is caused by unhealthy accumulation of suppressed emotions and stress.
Which, when ignored, can destroy our emotional balance. And lead to mental and physical health problems.
As such, anxiety is a vital warning system to alert us to a danger within.
Which is why we often refer to anxiety as being irrational. Because no actual external threat exists. Still, it’s never unfounded. Because the internal threat is real.
We just tend to be unaware of it.
In contrast, fear is a normal and healthy reaction to any situation that endangers our life from the outside.
When confronted with a physical threat, adrenaline and other hormones accelerate breathing and heart rates. Blood pressure increases, muscles tense up and blood is redirected to the arms, legs and brain. The body prepares for fight or flight, to either combat the threat or flee from it.
And while many of us deal with anxiety every day, most of us rarely fear for our survival. And the explosive combination of fear and anxiety knocks us completely out of balance.
Which is why we need to alleviate them both to feel calmer.
So, let’s start with the fear.
The primordial origin of our fear about coronavirus
Survival instincts have protected animal species since the beginning of life.
And fear is nature’s means of enforcing these instincts. Fear of death or harm makes us run from predators, hide from enemies and hoard food for bad times.
And it’s been triggered in many of us by the current coronavirus pandemic. We are terrified that we (or a member of our tribe) could succumb to the disease. We panic about running out of food and starving to death.
At least subconsciously.
Because the fear response is hard-wired into all of us to keep us safe and alive for as long as possible.
So, how can we calm our fear when it’s so important to our survival?
How to reduce instinctual fear
The most effective way to reduce fear triggered by a perceived threat to our life is through deep breathing.
I know, I know. That old chestnut.
I’ll admit, there was a time when I would have rolled my eyes at the suggestion of breathing exercises. Thinking: “For Goodness sake! Is that all you have? What a waste of time.”
But over the years, I discovered that deep breathing is the key to an anxiety-free life. And it’s especially important if your fears suffocate you in the current circumstances.
You see, while the coronavirus panic is real, very few of us are actually at risk. But still, the thought that there is something big and uncontrollable out there that threatens our physical or financial survival is enough to trigger a massive fear response.
Which causes our body to switch to fast, shallow breathing to prepare for fight or flight. So, our body knows to associate rapid breaths with fear and danger.
Whereas deep, slow breathing signifies security and relaxation.
So, by changing our breathing to a steady, slow, deep rhythm, the body starts to believe that we are safe.
And deactivates the fear response.
And because most of us breathe shallowly at the best of times, regular deep breathing exercises are vital to remain calm. Especially in times like this.
So, take a deep breath in. And out. You are safe. All is well.
If you want some support with calming your breathing, read on for a free guided meditation to help you cope with the fear and anxiety about coronavirus.
The volatile reason for our anxiety about coronavirus
In the last two weeks, our world has been turned upside down.
We now work remotely, we self-isolate, rummage through five shops to find a bag of flour. Our countries are either in lockdown or preparing for it. Shops, restaurants, leisure centres are closed.
Public life has ground to a halt.
And everybody’s comfort zone has evaporated.
Now, some people just adapt. They change their routines and get on with it.
But not us.
The comfort zones of anxiety sufferers are tiny. And every step towards its edge is terrifying and upsetting. We aren’t great with change. No matter how small.
And turmoil like this is overwhelming and more than we can bear. The vaporisation or uprooting of our comfort zone causes enormous stress. And in order to keep functioning, we suppress endless anger, panic and tears.
All of which skyrockets our internal pressure. And the result is soaring anxiety and rampant panic attacks.
How to cope when the anxiety about coronavirus goes berserk
The best way to cope with anxiety (in any situation) is by releasing excess internal pressure from your energy system. You can find a quick, effective way of doing it in my video post “A powerful tactic to release emotional pain”.
But it is crucial to also anchor yourself in the present moment. Especially in the current situation.
You see, when we feel anxious, our mind abandons the present moment.
It endlessly recalls information from the past. To try and gauge the severity of the current problem based on past experience. This includes any past trauma from our own life and stories we heard from others. But also catastrophes we saw on the news.
And even the horror we watched on The Walking Dead, Outbreak or The Last Ship.
The mind will use any information it deems similar to deduct the risk level of the current situation. And extrapolate its findings into the future.
So, our head is filled with terrible memories, as well as worries and horror scenarios of what may lie ahead.
And, together with a lack of comfort zone, this is an explosive mix.
But the past is long gone and has no power over us. And our dreadful visions of the future are nothing more than movies of the mind. Directed by our worries and fears.
Focussing your mind on the present moment will help to shift your perspective from doom and worry to the actual reality. Because this one moment is the only thing that’s real. This single present moment is your comfort zone.
And right here and now, all is well.
If you want some support with anchoring your mind in the present moment, read on for a free guided meditation to help you cope with the fear and anxiety about coronavirus.
How to be calm in a world filled with fear and anxiety about coronavirus
So, our panic is so all-consuming at the moment because it combines both fear and anxiety about coronavirus.
But there is a third reason why we feel so paralysed.
You see, we all have an individual energy field. But we are also surrounded by a collective energy field that is fuelled by the energies of all members of a society.
Under normal circumstances the positive energies of some people and the negativity of others more or less cancel each other out. Making our societal field mostly neutral (even though some common limiting beliefs, such as the false belief in our inherent worthlessness, are perpetuated through the societal field).
But, at the moment, most people feel scared to some degree.
The anxiety about coronavirus spreads faster than the virus itself. Filling the hearts (and energy fields) of millions of people with dread and panic.
So, the fickle balance within the societal field has shifted to negativity and fear.
Which means that, at the moment, we don’t just battle our own fears caused by our mind’s struggle to compute an incomprehensible situation. We also contend with everybody else’s terror.
And the collective panic envelops us. We can feel it draw closer, like a neoprene suit that gets tighter every day.
So, to make it easier for us to regain a sense of calm, it is imperative to create some distance between us and our society’s fears.
And we can do this in 2 steps.
How to disengage from the societal anxiety about coronavirus – STEP 1
While we can physically smell the fear in the communal energy field at the moment, the panic is mainly communicated via the media and social media.
So, as the first step to distancing yourself from the societal field of doom, stop watching the news.
They are pure COVID-19 panic at the moment. And instrumental in paralysing us with fear as we spend most of our days staring at the horrifying headlines and terrified social media posts.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
It is important at the moment to keep informed. So, you can act upon any new containment or delay measures quickly and save lives.
But give yourself 15 minutes once during the morning or evening to catch up on the main developments. Not more. So, you don’t get sucked into the chasm of dread.
And if you feel severe anxiety about coronavirus, I recommend taking a news and social media holiday altogether. Just for a while.
And don’t worry, if the news is important enough, it will still find you.
Especially, if you switch to factual news, such as the World Health Organisation’s situation reports, objective fact summaries or your local Public Health agency’s website as your main information source.
How to disengage from the societal anxiety about coronavirus – STEP 2
Another powerful tactic to distance ourselves from the collective coronanxiety, is to expand our own energy field.
This will push the societal field further away from us and give us vital breathing space.
And if we fill our own energy field with love on top of it, this will affect the balance within the communal field. And if enough people focus on love rather than fear, the balance will shift back to neutral.
And we will all find it easier to cope with the current situation.
If you need some support with expanding your energy field, read on to find a free guided meditation to help you cope with the fear and anxiety about coronavirus.
A guided meditation to calm your fear and anxiety about coronavirus
I know all of these steps and tips can become overwhelming.
You don’t know where to start. It’s another thing that is new and unfamiliar. And you just want a simple way to calm your nerves when the panic takes you over.
I get it.
Which is why I recorded a guided meditation that incorporates all the coping mechanism we discussed in this article. So, all you need to do is sit back, try to relax, listen and follow along.
You can listen to the meditation right here on the blog for free. Or, if you prefer, you can download it for $9 to listen whenever and wherever, without internet connection or mobile data usage.
"Calm Your Anxiety" Guided Meditation
Immerse yourself in this calming guided meditation whenever you feel anxious or panic creeps up on you.
How to get through this pandemic with your mental health intact
There is no way round it. These are terrifying times for all of us.
But we must not surrender to our fear and anxiety. There are ways to keep them at bay. And, who knows, maybe this is even a chance for us to overcome them.
It’s still our choice.
We can let our panic paralyse us. Spend our days glued to the horrific news. Overwhelmed by worries and dread. With our heart pounding and our chest tight.
Or we can work against it. All day, every day.
Until we find peace and calm within the current chaos. Until we realise that our anxiety isn’t controlling us. That we are not its hostages.
Distancing yourself from what is going on around you and detaching yourself from other people’s emotional upheaval doesn’t mean you don’t care.
It just means that you protect your mental and emotional health. To ensure that YOU can function first. Or you won’t be able to help anybody.
So, meditate, focus on the present moment, neutralise the collective field of fear. And breathe.
Because, right here and now, you are safe. And all is well.
Read the other 2 posts of the 3-part "What to do when you panic about coronavirus" series:
If you would like more help looking after yourself and dealing with anxiety, you can sign up for free now for the 12-Day Self-Care Challenge online course:
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