Fear is only as deep as the mind allows -Japanese Proverb
Ground Yourself amid Anxiety and Fear
We live in a world that preys on our nervous system that often perpetuates fear. We often fail to recognize the true power we have when we succumb to the barrage of noise around us. When you can learn to ground yourself amid the anxiety and fear that is around you, you learn to source everything from within.
We are living in unprecedented times. For the first time and hopefully last in my lifetime, we are in the middle of a viral pandemic. COVID-19 has swept across the world at a rapid pace, and with it brought a ribbon of widespread panic, fear, and anxiety. There is so much fear and noise around this pandemic. How do we listen to the voice within, show up, and be wise? Ground yourself in the facts and make the most resourceful, logical decisions for ourselves? You can start by grounding yourself.
Basic Needs for Survival
Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that the foundational levels of the pyramid; Physiological needs, and Safety needs form our very basic reasons for survival. Air, Water, Food, Sleep, Shelter, Clothing, Security, Employment, Resources, and Health. It is no wonder why nearly every grocery store in the region has no bread, water, eggs, milk, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and diapers. These needs form the root of our safety and security here in the world.
The social distancing rule created amid this pandemic created fear and a lack of freedom, that threatened our survival. As the stock market did backflips in the wrong direction within a couple of days’ timeframe, reactionary to the state of affairs, we tightened our grip. Healthcare resources became overwhelmed with a lack of resources, many panicked.
Employees were sent home, and schools shut down, everything we thought we understood about routines and safety changed, the inner landscape of our mind shifted too. When our basic needs for survival are threatened, we find ways to feed the threat by overcompensating, obsessing, and hoarding, and taking more than what we need out of fear. However, we can shift this if we choose to.
When we are overwhelmed by what is happening outside of us, reconnecting with our Self is the very antidote we are seeking.
Grounding Action #1 Turning inward and controlling your breath
In paralyzing times of fear and anxiety, the most helpful place to look for peace is within your reality. The first place to start is with your breath. Our sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our fight or flight response. When our heart rate and breathing speed up as cortisol is pumped into our bloodstream, ready, and prepared for the perceived threat. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest and digest response. When this system dominates, your heart rate drops, blood pressure drops and your body finds alchemy in a state of calm and peace and healing. To return to this state wherever you are, try this breathing technique.
Try these 3 Techniques to Ground Yourself when you are feeling fear, panic or anxiety.
Technique #1: 4-7-8 breathing
Here is an effortless breathing technique that will bring focused and calming attention to your breath.
- Breathe all the air out of your lungs
- Silently, breathe in and count to 4
- Hold your breath and silently count to 7
- Breathe out for a silent count of 8, pursing your lips.
- Repeat this 3-5 times at one time.
- Notice how you feel after you are finished
Controlled breathing slows down your sympathetic nervous system, which slows your heart rate, helps you relax, reduces anxiety and fear responses, and helps you access the calm center within you.
Grounding Action #2 Mindfulness
definition: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Becoming Mindful is quite easy. It is the discipline to continue that can be hard. Less than 10% of people who start a mindfulness practice continue with it for more than a week. Start with observation. Is your mind full of racing thoughts, overwhelming feelings, and charged emotions that are not serving who you are or where you want to be? We live in an “always-on” culture that creates this illusion that we have to keep on somehow and play along. Turn inward to observe from a mindful perspective rather than react from a mind-full space.
Technique #2 to BEing Mindful
Be with your senses- When you are washing the dishes, driving your car, doing laundry and taking a shower, how do things feel, what do they smell like, do things sound different, what about the thoughts in your head during this time, be aware and tune in.
Be aware of your activities and habits-What are your habits? Are they supporting you? How much time are you spending on social media, watching tv or the news, or texting people? Are you mindfully doing these tasks, or are they an escape from what is overwhelming? Our brains often search for things that are comfortable and easy, and often the result is the very antidote to what we need.
Be open-minded– new ways of thinking can challenge us and trigger us based on old, outdated thought patterns. Can you listen, be open, and hold onto a thought long enough to observe your feelings around it? Try 4-7-8 breathing to support you.
Be still/present– Can you be present with your body, mind, and thoughts with everything you are doing each day? Can you do this and not race to the next idea, or thinking about what you will say next when someone is talking. Truly being present is a gift for you and others.
Become movement-Have you moved your body? What about a 20-minute mindful walk around the block at lunch, or riding your bike to work, tune in a while moving your body, rather than tuning out, this deepens your practice of awareness.
Mind is indeed the Builder . . . what is held in the act of mental vision becomes a reality in the material experience. We are gradually built to that image created within our own mental being.-Edgar Cayce
What we create with the mind is also what we manifest. What we hold as truth in our mind, is what we create as truth. When we are mindful of what is happening within us and around us, we create an internal and external environment ready for chaos, change, challenges. This takes discipline, intention, and placing value on things that often many don’t feel are necessary.
Grounding Action #3 Meditation
Meditation often gets a bad reputation from those that don’t do it. It seems “out there” and hard from those that have tried it and don’t practice it, and there seems to be this collective agreement that it is tough to turn down the monkey mind and be.
The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of meditation are profound, from better sleep and strengthening immunity to increased motivation and creativity to helping control anger and calming the brain. Meditation has shown to decrease depression and anxiety, awaken your intuition, increase your compassion, and give you overall peace of mind.
So why don’t more people do it if it seems like the perfect medicine to the challenging times we are facing?
You train your body through exercise and diet; you train your brain through mindfulness and meditation. We often overlook the very thing (our brain) that keeps all the processes going in our bodies each day. The brain is an incredible resource, but not unlike anything in your life, needs love, attention, and training.
Technique #3: Easy meditation tools to train your brain for calm, peace, and joy
#1 – Quiet Meditation – find a quiet place daily, set a timer for 5 minutes to start. Increase your time as you continue with this practice. Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing: the in-breath and the out-breath. When the monkey mind shows up, go back, and focus on your breath.
#2 – Movement Meditation – during your daily movement, be a seeker of the world around you, observe nature, weather, animals, people, and the cadence of your rhythm. Be with whatever shows up, and then keep moving.
#3 – Guided Meditation– have someone guide your mind and body into deep relaxation through visualization and guided imagery. (Guided meditations can be found on YouTube)
Buddha spent six years meditating on the essence, causes, and cures for human anguish. In the end, he realized that suffering is not caused by ill fortune, by social injustice, or by divine whims. Rather, suffering is caused by the behavior patterns of one’s mind. Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens)
Trust that the connection to yourself is in your head and heart and will continue to help you show up mindfully in a world of fear, panic, and scarcity. Continue to prioritize your mind and being Mindful. Notice how things shift in a positive way when you practice the tools and integrate the challenges.