Community//

Managing fear in difficult times: COVID-19

Fear can prepare us to take the necessary actions to met the challenges ahead

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Emotional intelligence is difficult to manage when it comes to fear. Being able to self-regulate when there’s a global health scare is quite a challenge for most of us, and I am no exception.

When the storm is approaching quickly as we are finding with the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, that fear is going to keep rising to the surface.

We’re used to feeling safe, having blind trust in our medical system and hopeful faith in our politicians. 

We’ve become reliant on the supermarkets to provide an endless supply of reasonably priced foods and essentials for our weekly shop.

Everything is changing and unnerving. We’re beginning to see cracks in our food production and distribution system, items that we’ve considered essential are no longer available.

My own health is compromised by a chronic respiratory condition so you can imagine my concern when my local chemist told me they had ran out of my medications and I’d have to await the next shipment.

When we look at how the stress of fear supports us it can go some way to allaying our anxiety.

Yes, fear does have a purpose, and that purpose is to prepare us to meet the challenge ahead. To meet challenges we need to know something about the resources we have available to us.

Starting with an inventory of my inner resources I’ve taken a mental note of: 

  • my relationships with my immediate family and their location and plans should one of us fall ill or need to isolate
  • knowledge and experience that I have with viruses, what old remedies my mother taught me and what works well for me
  • how quickly can I make a decision for pets if I need to
  • gut feelings are usually a good indicator of the situation given my clinical health and therapy experience

There are so many helpful tips for supporting my health that my mother and grandmother passed to me, many of which I still use. These are valuable remedies when healthcare teams are overwhelmed and healthcare resources limited.

Yes, fear does have a purpose, and that purpose is to prepare us to meet the challenge ahead.

Then I’ve checked in with my physical resources which include:

  • what’s in my pantry
  • what’s growing in my garden
  • community resources, food banks, low traffic times at supermarkets
  • community groups that I belong to for support and resources
  • my financial resources and measures I need to plan for if my income is affected
  • natural remedies I already have in my home wellness kit
  • a mental check of my rarely used GP, and local hospital
  • local complementary practitioners that might be able to support me if need be
  • health food and supplement suppliers
  • online grocery shopping
  • friends who might be willing to help me out if I’m taken ill

Look around your garden and discover the edible plants there. There’s a wealth of herbs in my garden that are rich in nutrients with which to supplement my diet.

With the health services expecting to be overwhelmed, complementary health practitioners are a rich community source of knowledge and skill, and can competently support your general wellbeing.

Following that review of my resources, the next question is of course, to decide my immediate needs:

  • medications
  • food for a few weeks
  • essential items
  • pet food

With all that prepared, my focus is now to support my immune system’s health.

Boosting it right now, and being as healthy as possible when the virus is circulating freely in my community is the plan.

Rest and sleepIn bed with lights out by 9 – 9.30 p.m. is a practice that offers my immune system the best boost of antioxidants available in the form of melatonin produced at that time. There are a few conditions:

  • you have to be in darkness between those hours
  • no lights, so that also means no phone or tablet devices

If you’re used to late nights, it will take a while for your system to adjust. You might lie awake for a few weeks whilst your hormones are finding their balance. Get comfortable with this. Use this time to rest your mind and listen gently to the sounds of the night.

Sunshine. In spite of all the rules about sunscreen, sunshine is vital for your immune system. Immune cells in your skin need sunshine to mobilize. 

Breathe. The breathing cycle is enormously beneficial to the immune function. Most of us do not breathe well, our breath is often shallow chest breathing which is “stress” breathing. Deep breathing, I practice ten deep, slow breaths a few times daily.

Movement. Some movement of your body is essential to keep everything moving, including the waste products of your immune system. They have to be processed and eliminated from the body. Walking and Qi Gong are my favourites.

Manage Stress. Ongoing fear depresses your immune system because it activates your stress hormones. As much as possible I manage my fear by exploring what is at its source when it surfaces.

Now that I have all that under control, I can begin to think about how I can offer support to my neighbours and my community.

Ideally I want to stay informed, and be prepared should I, or my family becomes ill. Then I am able to settle back into observing life whilst I get on with what has to be done to keep my work up to date.

Stay well.

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