Overcome Psychological Challenges from the Quarantine
Our world has turned upside down within a matter of weeks. Shutting down our everyday activities and interactions with our friends, families and teams has created a level of emotional disruption that is unprecedented. My heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs or loved ones from the virus.
Because we are wired for safety and security, when our safety is threatened, our brains respond with fear which can lead to psychological stress, anxiety and even panic. It doesn't have to be that way though! This blog is for those who are experiencing uncertainty of the future, helplessness for those suffering, battling compulsive behaviors - like obsessively eating or generally feeling unmotivated.
There are strategies to turn this unprecedented suffering into an opportunity as we look within ourselves and take steps to transform. I want you to be able to better manage your stress response and strengthen your resiliency muscle for yourself and your community.
“Given the circumstances, feeling anxious is part of a normal response to what’s going on,” said Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
I recently listened to a webcast by Dr. Dan Radecki who trademarked the S.A.F.E.T.Y.™ Model based on his neuroscience research. Below are practical ideas and tested strategies that combat the brain's fear response.
There are six elements to this model: Security, Autonomy, Fairness, Esteem, Trust and You. Here are strategies and links of additional resources for managing each one of them.
Security: Our brains need predictability, consistency and minimal change.
Establish a morning routine and before looking at social media or the news - set your schedule for the day.
Open up communication with your co-inhabitants with agreed upon house rules - clean your dishes after each meal! Use headphones for conference calls.
Start a regular mindful meditation practice - just 10 minutes a day will settle the mind.
Autonomy: Need for a sense of control over the world, and to know we have choices.
Realize that you can choose what you focus on. You can control how you show up in a relationship, how much effort you put forth in a project. If there is something you are struggling with, make a list of the controlables and uncontrolables. Focus on what you can control, leave what you can't.
Pick a short term goal and be determined to make 10% improvement every week
Choose to exercise 20-30 minutes per day by simply going for a walk outside. Here is a Free 30 minute video from my favorite yoga teacher.
Fairness: Needing to be treated fairly.
Establish ground rules for everyone you are living with at home - set boundaries at work.
Be aware of equity in conversations, contribution and resources. Learn how Holistic Life Foundation is breathing love in their community.
Esteem: Need to be regarded highly, including how we compare to others and how others view us.
1. Ask a friend or partner 5 questions about them throughout the week- get connected on a deeper level.
2. Make time to recognize and acknowledge others’ efforts and contributions
3. Maximize social connectedness, add virtual group time when in-person is not possible.
Trust: Need to belong socially to a community.
1. Find commonalities and shared experiences with others - Virtual Happy Hour anyone?
2. Adopt a mindset and language of “we” rather than “I”
You: While all our brains have some need in all the prior five areas, we are unique in which of these areas we are most and least sensitive to. Becoming aware of what external influences play the biggest role in your psychological safety can help you better manage your own psychological safety.
If you need instant relief now - listen to this recording to reduce your anxiety.
Learning about the brain’s natural response in the face of threat and uncertainty can help us understand our own and others’ behaviors. Implementing scientifically tested strategies that impact the brain’s fear response will help us better manage our stress and anxiety, and build resiliency, both individually and as a community.