Now, more than ever it so important to manage your thoughts and your mind around the events going on in the world, and on our doorstep – coronavirus, job security, the economy, travel restrictions, closed borders, grocery shortages. Everywhere you look it is doom and gloom.
While it is important to be informed and cautious, it is not helpful to be scared and fearful.
Your primitive brain will want to default to fear. Its primary purpose was survival of the species, so it’s on very high alert at the moment with the all the uncertainty and unknown.
But, fear will do you no good – or anyone else for that matter.
You can take steps to keep the fear virus at bay, while still making responsible, rational choices:
Be mindful of what you are filling your brain with:
I usually stay away from the news. I find it depressing, negative, drama related and unhelpful. However, this week I’ve found I’ve defaulted to turning the TV on as soon as I get home from the gym each morning and filling my brain with the doom and gloom through my breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee. This is not helpful!! While I need to be informed, I don’t need to be mindlessly watching this and filling my brain with fear inducing statistics and images of people behaving badly.
Why? Because what you fill your brain with triggers what you notice more of. What you focus on is what you get. Just think of anytime you’ve bought a new car-all of a sudden you see that car everywhere whereas before you may hardly have noticed it. It’s because your brain is focused on it so that is what it seeks out and what it sees. The more exposure to doom, gloom and fearful and negative stories, the more you brain will notice this and seek it out as evidence that everything is doom and gloom. It was a survival mechanism for us once, now it can send us into unhelpful spirals.
Instead, limit your exposure to the news and updates and fill your brain with things to combat this such as…
When you come from a place of gratitude and train your brain to look for the good and what’s going well, you leave little room for fear.
A little while ago we started a gratitude practice each night at the dinner table with each of us sharing three things from the day we are grateful for or three things that went well.
When we started my 11yr old daughter rolled her eyes and complained and honestly struggled to come up with three things. Now, she discusses her three things easily and even applies it outside of our dinner conversation. I was grappling with a trolley a couple of weeks ago (pre-corona) and complaining about how bad it was to handle and she stopped me and asked me to come up with three good things about the trolley to stop my complaining-talk about lessons from your children!!
Focus on what you can control:
I’ve talked about this one before. What is going on right now is out of your control. When you focus on things that are out of your control you feel powerless.
The only things you can control are your thoughts and your actions and the first place to start is your thoughts.
If you notice you start to feel fearful, anxious, worried, angry, etc. you need to stop and notice the thought/s causing those feelings. Write them down, get them out of your head. Look at each thought:
- Is it in your control, can you do something about it? If not, let it go. Focusing on how poorly people are behaving won’t change their behaviour, it will only make you angry.
- Is it a true fact or a worry thought about what might happen (there will be a lot of these thoughts at the moment). Really take the time to distinguish your thoughts from facts. You can’t change external facts, you can change the thoughts you are having, after all, a thought is really just a sentence in your mind.
Be kind to yourself. You may default to fear, that’s ok. Just recognise it and manage it. You might be scared or worried-that’s ok, recognise it and manage it rather than letting it spiral out of control. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up for experiencing feelings and emotions that are negative but natural for us to feel.
Be kind to others. This is something the world needs more of, even more so now. What small acts of kindness can you do. Call someone to check they are OK. Take a cooked meal to someone who’s struggling. Recognise the hard work people are doing and that they are struggling. A small act of kindness can make someone’s day.
Really, what it boils down to is thinking and acting deliberately, rather than reacting on default.
Be an example of what you want to see in the world. Not a reaction to what’s going on.