How to Ease Fears in a Fearful World

By March 24, 2020Blog

These are challenging times.

As humans, we’re meant to roam with our tribe, something our primitive brains seek to ensure, because there’s safety in numbers. Now, with the threat of COVID-19, the government is forbidding togetherness except with people in our immediate household. If you live alone, you may feel further isolated from human touch.

Please know, you are not alone. We’re all a little afraid, a little anxious, a lot unsettled.

But here’s the good news: there’s something we can do to change fearful thoughts into a sense of calm, to shift from feeling unsettled, to feeling grounded.

Here are five tips to help you navigate the coming weeks as you shelter-in-place.

1. Claim your power

While sheltering-in-place may leave you feeling powerless, based on current knowledge, the only way to flatten the curve of the rapid rise of COVID-19 is to stay at home. So, in a sense, it’s an act of power. You are taking back power, by defeating the spread of this virus. Think of yourself as a superhero! Strike the pose every morning when you get out of bed. If nothing else, it may make you feel silly, which is a very good way to start the day.

2. Choose your words wisely

The words you use have an immediate effect on your mind and body, and on the minds and bodies of those around you. When feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, replace those scary, stressful thoughts in your head with uplifting words and phrases such as:

I look forward to the time when I can see my loved ones in person.

I’m so grateful for the internet and phones, so I can keep in touch with family and friends.

This moment in history is an opportunity for us all to support one another, offer healing thoughts and prayers, and discover how strong and resilient we really are.

3. Distraction is an antidote to fear

Rather than ruminate on something you can’t control, find ways to distract your mind to give those fired-up synapses a rest. Here are ten distracting activities to try:

  • Check in on a family member via phone, or mail a letter to a friend. Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten letter!
  • Learn a new language.
  • Play cards and other games. Monopoly can go on for
  • Check out e-books and streaming videos from the library website and have a reading or movie night, snuggled on the couch.
  • Play with children and pets. If you don’t have children or pets, play like you are
  • Take a walk outside to broaden your perspective and get those feel-good ions from nature. While walking, see how many species of trees you can name.
  • Write a poem or song or short story or some other form that’s all your own.
  • Teach something to someone else.
  • Start a virtual book club.
  • Do 2 pushups. The next day do 3. Keep adding one a day.

4. Habits help you feel grounded

What habits have you developed, or would you like to develop?

Rising at the same time every day, eating at specific times, going to bed at the same time every night are habits that help normalize life. You can add other habits, too, such as working on a creative project for fifteen minutes every day. Make a big X on a calendar every day you complete the habit, and don’t break the chain of X’s. Make it a game with yourself!

Take tiny steps. Doing only 1% can make a huge difference in the long run.

5. Tiny actions cause a ripple effect in the world

You’ve probably heard of the Butterfly Effect. A meteorology professor at MIT, Edward Lorenz, posed a question: “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” He ran a computer program simulating weather patterns and then left his office to get a cup of coffee while the machine ran. When he returned, he noticed an unexpected result, which led Lorenz to a powerful insight about the way nature works: small changes can have large consequences.

What small change can you make today that can result in a more peaceful, joyful world around you in the future?

It can be as simple as smiling at the cashier and expressing your appreciation for their hard work. In turn, that cashier may brighten the next person’s day. You could try finding the humor in the day to day, and send out ripples of laughter. You can practice meditation, prayer, or another contemplative practice to radiate peace and calm.

Together, with tiny actions, we can help our community heal. And who knows: we may very well set off a tornado of good feelings around the globe.

Blessings to you and yours.

Contributed by Diane Holcomb, Outreach Coordinator