The grizzly bear approaches out of the woods, standing 10 feet tall on his hind legs, and releases a deafening roar. Your fight/flight/freeze survival response dictates your next move.
When we feel threatened, our emotions and physical body have an immediate response.
We have been facing a very real, life-threatening, Covid-19 virus. In addition, our black brothers and sisters have been facing a different, very real, systemic, life-threatening issue of racism.
We have been exposed to visual images of overburdened hospitals, daily updates of virus deaths, horrific murders and violent protests. All of these can create a fight, flight or freeze survival response over prolonged periods of time. The result of prolonged exposure may be anxiety and fear of the present and the future.
What’s next? Will my job still be here? Will my kids go back to school?
No one knows what the long term consequences will be for our economy, jobs, relationships, school systems and health issues. While it is common to experience anxiety, fear and trepidation regarding uncertainty, the future and the unknown, we can utilize perspective to recognize opportunities in the midst of crises.
Our ability to apply a positive perspective, look for opportunities to grow, change or adapt, may determine our ability to move from simply coping with fear and anxiety to feeling a sense of control or autonomy.
Here are a few ideas for coping with strong feelings of anxiety and fear on a daily basis:
- Recognize what is under our control and control what you can. Is now the time to update your resume? Take vitamins? Exercise? Learn a new skill?
- Engage your 5 senses – In the present moment, what can you see, hear, smell, taste and feel?
- Call friends and family who are available to listen, empathize and support. And do the same for them.
- What are your thoughts about your circumstances? Our thoughts dictate our direction. What am I telling myself about what is happening? What am I feeling/believing about myself? Are my thoughts more positive or negative?
- Ask for what you need- reach out to those who are willing to help with food, bills, jobs, ideas, direction, support, etc.
Now is the time to find your voice, your priorities, and line them up with your life values.
Discover who you want to be, and if you’re not that person yet, make a list of things you can do to move yourself in that direction. Talk to a professional counselor who can also assist you in the right direction!
Written by: Allison Wray