Quick Check-In on how your brain is processing the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you are like most Americans, you were already experiencing chronic stress around your finances according to the Stress in America survey done by the American Psychological Association. The current state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus pandemic has affected a tremendous amount of people raising the overall stress levels to unprecedented proportions.
Not all stress is bad. In simple terms it can be viewed as our response to a threat. It urges us to move away from danger and stay safe. However, our brains are interpretation machines and how they perceive the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic to our health and our financial stability will determine the level of our stress response.
A stress response is both psychological and physiological, it affects both our mind and body. Chronic and acute stress triggers our survival mode which activates the fight, flight or freeze response. The first two are appropriate responses during hard times. It’s a call-to-action by our brains. The freeze response is the most detrimental as it makes you “dead in the water” and unable to adapt and change to your new circumstances.
Take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you in fight, flight or freeze right now?
Fight. The fight response may provide you with a bit of an edge and get you into action. The Coronavirus pandemic has halted so much of our lives so it’s easy to feel powerless, but you are not helpless. Stay focused since too much edge / anger can quickly become detrimental You’re in it for the long haul. You know it’s going to take time. However, when channeled properly fight response can lead to (positive) confrontation and clarity of what’s next.
Flight. Stay present. Your brain is telling you that you are in danger of COVID-19 and financial doom. It wants to flee. While there may be some truth to the feeling of danger it is completely disproportionate to your reality. Use mindfulness and grounding to get clear on what is triggering your stress response. 1-minute meditations, deep breathing, mindful exercise can all bring you back into the moment. In the present you are likely healthy, with a roof over your head and food in the cupboard. The future is uncertain but accepting that sooner rather than later will help you enter fight mode so you can care for yourself, your family and your community.
Freeze. You must get unstuck. To do so you may need to engage in something completely counterintuitive. Action! Having too much time on our hands due to the pandemic can be retriggering the same freeze response over and over. Start a new workout routine, learn to play an instrument, even reading a book can help you thaw out. By using our bodies to get into action we get our brains to unfreeze