4 TIPS TO STAY CALM WHEN SURROUNDED BY PANIC
Our minds latch on to fear-inducing headlines and it can be difficult to gain perspective on the situation, when we have already entered crisis mode. It is easy for people to picture the worst-case scenario.
An article fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/202002/the-coronavirus-is-much-worse-you-think describes coronavirus as “exclusively a moral panic” highlighting that 0.0001% of the world’s population has been infected. Even though there is this low-level of infection, we have entered a state of international crisis. Many will still feel fear when reading the news headlines, even with this knowledge. It is quite normal given how our mind and body respond to a perceived crisis.
When confronted with a crisis, the mind goes into survival mode – known as the ‘fight or flight response’. When we are faced with a threat (or a perceived threat), the body responds by releasing the stress hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. This hormone rush increases the heart rate and blood pressure and causes the breath to become shallow and rapid.
4 TIPS ON HOW TO BE CALM IN A CRISIS OR ‘PERCEIVED’ CRISIS
- CHANGE HOW YOU FEEL – we have no control over outside events but we do have control over how we feel about something. You can choose how to respond.
- STOP USING CATASTROPHIZING LANGUAGE in how you talk and think about the situation. Thinking and talking – ‘this is disastrous’ or ‘the end of the world’, means your mind will accept this and not find a solution, whereas if you start to think ‘this is a challenge’ then your mind hears that you have a situation that can be dealt with, even an opportunity – the words we use can either minimise or maximise stress.
- FOCUS ON RIGHT NOW –The more you imagine what could happen, the more you will feel out of control. When you find your mind wandering off down the rabbit hole of ‘what if’ bring yourself back to the present moment. This is a great opportunity to either start a simple meditation practice or build it up. Start with just 3 minutes a day of sitting comfortably still and focus on your breath (be consciously aware of breathing in and out) with either some music in the background, a ticking clock, listening to the rain or wind. Meditation is wonderful to keep you grounded in the present and NOT engage with ‘thoughts’. If you find your mind wandering off, bring it back to the breath.
4. MAKE TIME TO RELAX AND APPRECIATE – Go for a walk and really notice the trees, gardens, water or wherever you walk. Take particular note of details that bring you joy. New growth on the trees or opening bud of a beautiful flower.
Relaxing activities include slow-paced yoga class, guided meditation or hypnosis audios which stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system – the body’s ‘rest and digest’ mode. This helps to reduce the feelings of stress and its impact. The more you are able to relax, the more you will be able to maintain a state of calm in your daily life.