COVID-19 or the Coronavirus has created a mass panic and fear and has triggered a lot of us that have past trauma. We all process risk in different ways so I wanted to talk today about the ways in which we can mitigate this mass-fear response.
A gentle reminder to feel compassion for yourself and anyone else who feels frightened right now.
It's distressing to see news media, to be constantly reminded to wash your hands and to hear all this talk about death.
As a society we don't talk much about death and we certainly don't have a cohesive societal attitude toward it.
Rationally, it is possible to educate our minds to understand that the risk is relatively low, even in high risk populations. The latest figures provided by the World Health Organization place the mortality rate (of confirmed cases) at approximately 3.5% globally or closer to 1.5% for all countries outside China. The numbers of people that have mild or asymptomatic presentations have unlikely been tested so these numbers are actually a lot less. The folks that are dying or needing to be hospitalized are those with chronic medical conditions such as lung disease, diabetes and heart disease and/or in elderly and immuno-suppressed communities. Rationally then, taking precautions such as frequent hand washing and the usual things we do to reduce the transmission of flu should be sufficient for the vast majority of the population.
Your risk of dying in a car crash is 1 in 103. Yet we get in our cars most days and don't feel scared.
Because we feel like we're in control.
Whereas with a new outbreak, people feel out of control and therefore powerless. When we feel powerless and out of control, we respond emotionally, even if it's not "rational". As you may have experienced, trying to have a rational argument with someone who is emotional is often fruitless. Emotions like fear arise from a very different part of your brain than the critical-thinking-conscious mind. The primal, survival-oriented limbic brain is linked more closely with our sub-conscious and doesn't care about rational arguments. It just wants to help you survive at all costs.
Fear is natural and normal when something is new and you feel powerless and out of control. Especially if you have a trauma history. Unfortunately the truth is that many of us have some form of trauma in our history. If you have a trauma history and things went very badly when you were out of control in the past, it's understandable that you would feel afraid when you feel out of control and powerless. This is where the healing work can happen.
Building your emotional immunity is as important as building your physical immunity.
Hypnosis can really help because in a hypnotic trance we tap into the subconscious mind to find the programs that get triggered when you're feeling out of control. It's like building new programs for emotional immunity in our subconscious mind. Other therapies can also be of enormous help, modalities such as EFT, Tapping and other Somatic therapies and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Even Acupuncture can help calm your emotional response to trauma memories.
Working through past trauma means that when uncertain times strike your limbic system doesn't panic as much. You become more resilient and can ride the waves of life's inevitable uncertainty.
Because the reality is that you're never in control. Not really.
We like to cling to the illusion of control, but it's merely that; an illusion. The more we treat and clear our traumas, the more emotional immunity we develop. Fear can then take its rightful place in your emotional repertoire as an early signal of intuition. This intuition is important and it definitely helps to keep you safe. The other advantage of working on past trauma is that your nervous system generally settles down more, and you can more easily fight off infections such as COVID-19 and recover quickly if you do catch them.
Keep in mind that unchecked fear itself is a health risk, so this is a time to get help if you need it and use spiritual practices to calm yourself. Daily exercise and a healthy diet are also still important and should not be sacrificed due to fear. Eating survival rations and staying indoors and not moving your body is not helping you to fight a possible infection.
Another huge health risk - especially in "at risk" populations, is isolating from society. Loneliness has a similar affect on your long-term health as smoking or heart disease. Killing at much higher rates than this current (and any virus).
So as much as your limbic mind is telling you to stay home and avoid all contact with other humans, this is not the healthy thing to do. The best thing is still to connect with other human beings inside your communities. During Physical Distancing this can be done online, or by just picking up a phone and making a call.
Especially at times like this community is our greatest defense.
Going forward remember to limit your exposure to the "news", wash your hands, eat well with plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise daily and build your emotional immunity through connection with others and by working through past traumas or programs so that you are better able to keep calm.