During this challenging situation virtually everyone of us is experiencing uncertainty and fear. Our sympathetic nervous system is switched to the ON position and none of us really know when it will be safe to switch it off. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are preparing us to fight the enemy. Our enemy? The Covid-19 virus, of course. It’s the tiger in our front yard that will not leave so long as our livelihoods, our way of life and our health continue to feel threatened. And if you listen to the news daily there is plenty to make us feel scared.
What many do not realize is that when you imagine all the worse-case scenarios in your head, your body does not realize that these are not happening for real. As far as it is concerned, the tiger is now in your home and is ready to pounce.
The problem with being in survival mode is that our body is channelling precious resources that can be used to keep us healthy into keeping us alive. All the extra energy that goes into making more cortisol that can help us outsmart the tiger means that there is less available for making DHEA for cellular repair, or for optimal digestion, creativity etc..
If the worst should happen and we catch the virus all the stress and worry beforehand about the possible physical and economic impact will already have done plenty to weaken our immune system. The irony is that when we become too fearful about catching the virus, we weaken the very thing we need most, our immune system. This is why during times like this, it becomes so important to learn how to activate the body's relaxation response through breathing techniques, meditation, EFT, visualization and self-hypnosis.
Obsessing about the terrible things that are happening now and could happen to us or our loved ones in the future is not the most productive way to face our worst fears, but neither is suppressing them or distracting ourselves by overeating, getting panicky or restarting bad habits. But how do we confront our worst fears without becoming them? Below are things that can help us navigate this situation and manage uncertainty a little bit better.
Self -hypnosis is a great tool; we can use it to feed positive, constructive suggestions to our mind and body, more specifcally to our immune system. It's important to phrase these suggestions correctly. There are times when boosting our immune system may not be the best option if it is already overactive. An over eager immune system may not be the answer, on the other hand, a sluggish immune system may not do us any favors if we have an infection that needs it to work a bit harder. When it comes to our first line of defense, balance is key. So suggestions should be about encouraging it to work in an optimal, perfect way. Calmly and wisely. The body has its own innate intelligence which I believe can help guide the immune system in a flexible manner, adapting its' strategy in order to effectively deal with invaders.
HAPPY ENDING EXERCISE
In Quantum Physics there is a concept called the Observer Effect. Essentially it means that whatever outcome is most “observed” is the one that has the greatest probability of happening. But how do we observe something that hasn’t happened? In our imagination, of course.
One of the ways you can switch your body back to rest and repair mode, and do your part to collapse the outcome you want is this great exercise:
Every time you start thinking about all the bad things that may happen, catch yourself, close your eyes and for at least a minute, fantasize, really put all your senses into creating a scene about the outcome you want to manifest. For example, getting that financial aid package for your business, surviving the crisis in good health.
Charge this scene with really positive emotions like gratitude, relief, happiness, love. This is crucial because it’s higher emotions that provide lift off to your desires. Imagining without emotion is like plugging a phone into a socket that won’t work.
Every time your mind goes into worst-case scenario mode or you start feeling helpless instead of in control, hopeless instead of hopeful, fearful or angry at your particular situation, do this exercise. That may mean doing it countless times a day. Sometimes when we most need to focus on hope and envisioning a best-case scenario is when we least want to do it. Often because things can seem so hopeless and our worries about the future so real. But do it anyway, do it for the physical and emotional health of your body. This exercise will give it a much-needed reason to inwardly smile, relax and go off survival mode, even for just a few minutes a day.
Struggling with the “what is” of this global crisis and its financial impact only adds to our suffering. Accepting means coming to terms with it. We don’t have to like it; we just have to feed a determination to get through it as best we can, accepting that our best will vary from moment to moment. Are there going to be moments when we will be tempted to go into despair and panic? Probably, so instead of judging ourselves, let us watch ourselves doing it. As author, Eckhart Tolle, would say, Watch the Thinker. When we observe ourselves becoming scared it takes the edge off our fear. Mindfulness keeps us from becoming lost in uncertainty and fear.
Ordering our body to relax seldom works. The best way to do it is by using what we most take for granted, our breath. Yes, optimal breathing is key to staying mentally, physically and emotionally strong. There are lots of good breathing techniques that switch off the fight or flight response, help us release stored tension and turn on the relaxation response. You can google them, but here is my favorite:
Put a hand on your belly and imagine that inside it is a deflated party balloon. Take a nice slow and steady in breath and imagine that you are inflating this balloon. Wait a second or two and in a very measured way, very slowly exhale out through your mouth. The out breath should ideally be twice as long as the inhalation.
If you do this right, you will feel every joint and muscle relaxing and letting go of tension. To further enhance the effects, imagine for example, breathing in calm and exhaling fear. For example, as I exhale, I think the word, Safe.
You can also imagine that every out-breath is relaxing your body. For example, you can inwardly repeat, the better I breathe the more relaxed I feel and the more relaxed I feel the better I breathe. Breathwork acts like an internal massage. Pay attention to areas in your body that feel tense and send them deep healing breaths. Get creative. You can imagine breathing in calming healing light of any color and have it flow through your body like a gentle, cleansing river, helping you release whatever emotions you need to release out the soles of your feet (or any other exit point you wish) and into the earth.
Remind yourself daily that You are more than the sum of all your doubts and worries, stronger than the uncertainty surrounding you, more empowered than your external environment. Breathe in fortitude and exhale doubt.