Today’s Episode is sponsored by Petra Kolb
This is one of several very short episodes I am releasing in response to the ever changing COVID 19 situation. I’d been working on season 4 but I have temporarily shelved some of those episodes in favour of creating a few new shows which deal with matters more immediate. Effectively this is season 4 of the show but I’m dedicating 6 of the 12 episodes to the current crisis.
One of the reasons for this is that I was getting a little anxious myself as I worked on future episodes and I increasingly felt inside that I must offer you some help and support during the current situation. I think the phrase is that I felt I had to pivot and adapt to bring you the advice which you need now at the cost of more evergreen content I had been producing that you might need in the future.
And so today I’m talking about anxiety because I’m talking to people online and on the phone and I’m reading that this is becoming a problem. It's totally understandable to experience anxiety however whilst coping with the stressful events and changes we have in our current coronavirus situation. In fact anxiety EXISTS because human beings have evolved ways to protect ourselves from danger.
The physical symptoms of fight or flight are what the human body has learned over thousands of years to operate efficiently and at the highest level...anxiety is a cognitive interpretation of that physical response. John Eliot Unquote
When we feel under threat like we do now, our bodies react by releasing adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make us feel more alert, so that we can react faster. They also make our hearts beat faster to quickly send blood to where it's needed most.
This hormone release creates a heightened readiness in our bodies which is commonly called the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response – If it looks weaker than me, I'll fight it. If it looks stronger than me, but slower, I'll run away. And if it looks stronger and faster than me, I'll freeze and hope it doesn't notice me. It's built into us. It’s just that right now we aren’t facing down a Sabre-toothed tiger as our ancestor’s did, but the unknown of something new and unusual that we can’t control. This causes us fear and worry and our body reacts automatically.
We have no control over this reaction but it’s important to recognise that anxiety and worry are natural, and sometimes useful human emotions that form part of our evolutionary make-up. When they become persistent and overwhelm us with feelings of fear, panic, worry or unease however, we need to recognise the problem and try to deal with it. It’s not healthy though to live in a prolonged state of anxiety as it can lead to longer term problems such as panic attacks.
Mark Twain said I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened
and that pretty much sums up what anxiety is and why you need to de-programme yourself to work around it if it is beginning to overwhelm you. By constantly worrying about things that you just can’t control you hand over control of your life to fear.
Another quote, this time by Pulitzer Prize winner Saul Bellow who also won the Nobel Prize for Literature teaches us a further lesson on this subject – he says Anxiety destroys scale, and suffering makes us lose perspective. Let me say that again
Anxiety DESTROYS SCALE, and SUFFERING MAKES US LOSE PERSPECTIVE.
This is further described by David Carbonell of Anxietycoach.com as THE ANXIETY TRICK. Or
You experience Discomfort, and get fooled into treating it like Danger.
The reality is that no amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen. What we are facing right now is discomfort, and yes I fully accept that this discomfort is based in some real danger, but worrying about tomorrow only robs today of its joy. If you are suffering from anxiety right now there are a number of things you can do to reduce your feelings of anxiety.
1. You can exercise, and I realise that if you are under instruction by your government to self-isolate that this may prove difficult but it’s not impossible. The current rules in the UK allow us to have one walk per day and I strongly recommend that you take it. That exercise and fresh air will greatly raise your spirits and scare away feelings of sadness which could begin to haunt you in this time of isolation.
2. Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of fear. I’ll post a link in the show notes to relaxation sounds to help you with this, in fact I may even put on an episode of it so that you can find it more easily. – these relaxation sounds such as waves crashing or distant thunder can be used in conjunction with imagining yourself in a relaxing place. There’s plenty of advice online about this. Try sitting and reading books too. Or try learning things like yoga, or meditation.
3. It can also help just to drop your shoulders and breathe deeply. Focusing on your breathing can be very relaxing.
4. Healthy eating. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables if you can get them and try to avoid too much sugar as the resulting dips in your blood sugar level can give you anxious feelings. Also try to avoid drinking too much tea and coffee, as caffeine can increase anxiety levels.
5. Avoid alcohol, or drink in moderation. It’s very common for people to drink when they feel nervous, but the after-effects of alcohol can make you feel even more afraid or anxious.
6. Talking to friends on the phone if you are isolating can be very effective for people with anxiety problems. Just be very careful not to call up and get stuck in a loop of complaining or unhappy gossip about the situation.
7. Stay away from the news. You don’t need to constantly feed your fears by listening to the media. Ignore them. Shut them out if you have to. It’s just not worth it. All they will do is feed your fears and suck the life out of you. Look back to my episode entitled Outrage Porn for more info on the manipulation of us by the media.
8. One of the articles I read when researching this episode said that the main reason people continue to worry too much, despite their best efforts to stop, is that they use an intuitive response (like telling yourself to stop thinking about it) for a counter intuitive problem. Finding counter intuitive responses, and practicing them, is a far better way to help you worry less. A counter intuitive response for people who worry too much is one that doesn't try to stop or oppose the thoughts. Instead, it aims at changing the way you relate to them. So for example if you say to yourself forget about it to when you are anxious, try instead saying think about it, and you may realise you are worrying about nothing. I’ll link to several articles that talk about this in the show notes.
Now, if you really want to get back control then make the decision to do so and look at it with the higher level of thinking that I urge you all to create in your day to day lives. That’s the state of mind where you can work on your life and career at the same time as you find yourself living and working in it. With this in mind, try to learn and understand more about your fear or anxiety and put it in perspective. Is what you are facing right now just Discomfort, which you have been fooled into treating like Danger? Is it a fear of the unknown? There’s a real danger in these times of uncertainty for us to catastrophise and that does no one any good at all. As humans we have a negativity bias, in that we always think the worst. If you can recognise that, and accept that you may be caught up in its thrall, then you can get by it.
· One of the most effective things I have used to get passed anxiety in the past is to put aside 15 minutes of each day for worry time. You can choose to allow yourself to worry within that time, but once it ends, lock it off and allow yourself to relax and get on with things.
· During that 15 minutes I highly recommend that you do a brain dump and get all of your worries and fears out of your head and onto a piece of paper or a white board. Once you see them written down in front of you, you will quickly realise that many are unfounded and only some are worth your consideration. This process will make it much easier for you to move past your problems. And when you are outwith the 15 minute worry session, put it behind you and re-approach it tomorrow. This technique allows you to get stuff done. The more you take action the more in control that you will feel and the less anxiety you will experience.
Religious author Max Lucado said that Anxiety and fear are cousins but not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one
and that imagined threat that you might be feeling right now, even though right now it feels like it is right on top of you and based in fact is still only in our minds. Don’t allow yourself catastrophise. None of us can predict the future, so please don’t try. A friend of mine recently had a cancer scare. He had convinced himself that he had, it. He didn’t have it and what he did have was treatable. That’s the negativity bias that I mentioned earlier and it does none of us any good.
You can never become a great man or woman until you have overcome anxiety, worry, and fear. It is impossible for an anxious person, a worried one, or a fearful one to perceive TRUTH; all things are distorted and thrown out of their proper relations by such mental states, and those who are in them cannot read the thoughts of God. Wallace D. Wattles Unquote
I’ve taken some of today’s information from a season 4 episode about stress, which will be out later in the year. In my previous episode I suggested 5 different things that you could be doing right now to take advantage of our forced self-isolation – I really wont you all to look at this is an opportunity and a gift that you will squander if you allow yourself to get brought down by anxiety and fear.
Trust me. If you have the courage to take action in your life and in your business whilst this crisis unfolds you will be in a far better place at the end of all this when we return to some degree of normality. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim.
I used this quote before in episode 18 but Amy Morin, author of 13 things that mentally strong people DON’T do says that “Wasting brain power ruminating about things you can't control drains mental energy quickly. The more you think about problems you can't solve, the less energy you'll have leftover for more productive endeavours.”
Now don’t waste any more energy worrying about tomorrow. Step up and face the challenge that lies before you today instead. Stay on top of what you CAN control and you will build the confidence to get through difficult times. In the episode 55 I suggested 5 positive things you could be doing right now to take advantage of your current forced isolation. Please go back and have a listen. The more positive action you can take right now the more calm you will feel and that will spread to the others round about you.
Now, don’t worry. Everything is going to be alright. Just take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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