A lot of us are familiar with anxiety right now. Your mind spins with different scenarios, and it feels impossible to calm down. Or you find yourself just switching off and numbing to everything.
Both these reactions are simply our nervous system trying to do what it’s meant to do - keep us safe. *
Our nervous system constantly scans the horizon for threats. If it perceives a threat, it responds by going into one of two ‘states’ - Flight & Fight, or Freeze. You’ll probably recognise one or both of these states from the second picture. And your nervous system can’t distinguish between a real physical threat (“this plane is about to crash”) and an emotional threat (“I’m scared of getting covid-19, I’m worried for my parents, I’m scared of losing my job”). *
The problem is that, in order to respond to an emotional threat, we need the exact resources (creativity, empathy, focus, rational thinking) that get ‘shut down’ when our nervous system slips into Flight, then Fight, then Freeze. AND, our brain then creates the story that fits the state of our nervous system - “I am definitely going to get this virus and so will my partner and no one can help with childcare and it will be horrendous” - before it’s actually happened.
But there’s another option. When our nervous system perceives no threat, it settles into Safe & Social state. Here, you can be in the present, connect with others, and access all your wonderful creativity, resourcefulness and empathy. The third image gives some ideas of how you can move yourself up the ‘ladder’ of these nervous system states, whether that’s to Mobilise or to Calm.
Above all, give yourself a break. We’re all a bit jittery right now - look after yourselves, and do whatever you need to chill out this evening.