Whew! The world has changed, and we must now change too. From something as simple as washing our hands after every interaction with door handles, food, other people, animals etc. (which we should already have been doing but its surprising how many do not!) to staying indoors, not shaking hands, not socialising, and not panicking.
How do we keep our minds calm in a crisis? The easiest answer is to train ourselves for just such a situation. An example of this would be fire drills, the reason we run fire drills every week is so we get acclimated to that shrieking alarm, we know how to exit the building in just such an emergency and where to gather for roll calls.
Of course, this is an unprecedented crisis, the like of which we haven’t seen in modern times, so there was no way to prepare and rehearse for this. You can probably see that in the fairly witless response of the UK, USA and Australian governments to the crisis. But hey, politicians are just people too and their unfortunate idolatry of the economy meant they tried to protect that first before the citizens of their countries.
And I won’t go down that rabbit hole because I’ll start to rant and that’s of no use to anyone.
Sticking to the science, and to useful information, what can we do to keep ourselves calm in the midst of chaos?
Respond with an assertive, even curious attitude versus a defensive one. Think of how to rise to the challenge of the situation rather than to the threat (primitive brain) by keeping a positive goal in mind. In yesterday’s blog post, which you can read here, I talk about how this is a real crisis, unlike anything we have ever seen, we have no idea what the outcome will be, we are being challenged and threatened by something we have no control over. And that makes us feel really vulnerable.
You may feel out of control, but you care about keeping your family and yourself safe from harm, I hope you also care about keeping the more vulnerable members of your community safe from ill health too, so while taking time to acknowledge how difficult it is, also think of how you can be of use.
Are you symptom free and able to do the shopping for your neighbours or collect prescriptions or provide a hot meal for someone who can’t do it for themselves?
Think about what you have control over. What can you choose to do in this situation? Who do you want to be in this situation?
Because you can choose to be brave and courageous, you can choose to stay disciplined in your efforts to isolate yourself and your family. You can choose to share resources and not panic buy and strip supermarket shelves of food and consumables that vulnerable people, doctors, nurses and other emergency services personnel might need too.
Evaluate chaos in its right perspective. Is my reaction appropriate? Is this a mountain or a molehill? Because the supermarkets are going to be open today, tomorrow, next week and in all probability next month and the one after that. Is it appropriate to panic buy and strip the shelves of all the household basics and foodstuffs we all need, including the vulnerable, the NHS staff, other emergency services, teachers etc? Is that appropriate, Fuck no, it isn’t. Get some perspective and get a grip.
Mindfulness and meditation give the prefrontal cortex more control to influence the emotional brain response. A stressed brain will make stupid decisions, so calm it down with meditation, go for a walk, watching tv or reading a book will not do this. You want to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system which means relaxing both the body and the mind, so yoga, meditation, exercise, knitting, repetitive activities that do not engage your thought processes. You will soon be able to sign up for my weekly hypnotic meditation service, delivered right into your email inbox, designed to relax you, let go of your stressors, current, past and future and live in the present feeling calm, relaxed and at peace with yourself and the world.
The final suggestion I have for helping calm your mind is to do good for other people. When we do charitable, kind acts we activate the positive emotional brain circuitry, as well as the pleasure and satisfaction centers in the brain, This gives us a boost, a high activation of gamma brain waves which indicates new brain cell wiring, what we in the business call neuroplasticity, which creates new neurons that grow new pathways in your brain. And you are keeping yourself young and brain fit by doing new things. And you’re being a nice person and not a dick, because who wants to be a dick? Build links with your community, help those who can’t get out and about as I said earlier.
The activation of the positive-emotional circuitry gives us a warm glow, we feel good about ourselves and our contribution to the greater good. When the brain feels good it will continue the charitable behavior making it a habit and natural way of life. And you will be a nicer person.
As I said yesterday, ‘Times like these define us, are you going to be a hero or an asshole?’
Want to stop touching your face? Listen to the audio for more and a specific hypnotic track to help you stop doing something we all do far more than we ever knew we did.