Stress and anxiety over the spread of COVID-19 are almost as epidemic as the virus itself. “Mindfulness” is a powerful technique that can help you quell those fears.
A recent study out of Denmark published in the journal Scientific Reports has found that daily use of mindfulness training can help make it easier for people to reduce their body’s fear reactions. Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce the intensity of negative emotion in both healthy people as well as those suffering from psychological problems; research has shown that it can help to treat clinical emotional maladies such as depression, anxiety, stress, and disorders stemming from trauma.
Our brains are wired to focus on fear as a method of ensuring our survival. As a caveman, this was a very important life skill. If our ancestors didn’t over-react to every rustle in the trees, they could be attacked and eaten by a lion. We, on the other hand, are not threatened by literal death on a daily basis. Instead, we are threatened by our email inbox, traffic, our boss’ approval, our children’s safety, and of course now, the coronavirus crisis.
Try this meditative practice for working with fear, from Mindful magazine.
The process starts with naming and recognizing what you are afraid of, in this case that would be getting the coronavirus.
As soon as you notice your fear rising and your heart pumping more, your chest tightening, your back stiffening, let an imaginary alarm bell go off in your head.
Then, take 3 or 10, or 20 deep breaths, however many you need to SLOW your body down. Place your hand on your heart if that will help.
Acknowledge to yourself, I’m scared I’m afraid of the coronavirus.
This creates a bit of distance between yourself and your fear, and by naming it, you have power over it, not the other way around. This will lower the intensity of the emotional reaction.
Say a few low phrases of well-wishing and encouragement for you and for others, such as:
“May (I/others) see the source of our fear…”
“May (I/others) be safe from this fear…”
“May (I/others) be happy and at ease.”
Do this or other strengthening mantras that work for you each time you feel your fear of the virus getting the better of you.
Do not avoid your fears, that gives them power over you. Instead embrace and accept them as part of you. Understand that in its own way, fear is actually your friend. So treat it as a friend instead of threat, and you will be able to handle you fear of COVID-19, or anything else for that matter, with confidence.
What techniques do you use to overcome your fears? Please reply using the comments below.