the Physiology of Fear & Anxiety
Resiliency in the Face of a Pandemic
Fear & anxiety can rise up when we know there is much we don’t know. Staying informed, slowing down and befriending ourselves makes us more resilient. Simple actions at home can be powerful. There is preliminary research showing that green tea extract, curcumin, ginger and allicin from garlic interfere with the proteases involved in viral replication. This research was done specifically on the COVID-19 strain.
Taking Action Alleviates Fear & Anxiety
There are many things we can do to “attend and befriend” ourselves right now. Tara Brach is a meditation teacher who uses this phrase to help us notice when anxiety or fear is present and just allow it to be there. It is a natural response in times like these. For those who have dealt with high levels of stress for longer periods there may be a more pronounced physiological response to the pandemic. It may take longer to regulate. You may feel fatigue as you do. Allowing rest is an action worth taking right now. The gift in social distancing is that you may have more time to attend and befriend yourself.
The 4 Pillars
Rest and sleep is one of the pillars of health. Nutrition, movement and stress management are the others. The physiology behind chronic stress puts us in a place of fear. Our frontal lobe is less able to make good decisions. The emotional aspect of the brain that is triggered is the amygdala. It is instinctual.
Reminding yourself that there are intelligent people tending to the situation, that you have the ability to adapt hard-wired into your being and taking steps towards a sense of ease in your body will help reduce the stress response. Daily exercise and a relaxation practice are incredibly powerful in this regard. So is humour. Once your stress response has lowered, you’ll be more resourced to deal with what you need to.
Change Happens Like This
When the noise of life turns down a bit, we can sense ourselves better. It gives a unique opportunity to notice what motivates us. Time in the wilderness or in meditation retreat has made me more connected and resilient. We need to remember what resources us and take this opportunity to turn towards ourselves. Immune strength, our nervous system and the stress response are woven together. Please eat more slowly, sleep longer, contemplate what media you take in and surround yourself with wisdom. Simplifying often means we go deeper with what’s important and meaningful.