Free Yourself From Fear During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Crazy times? Check. Time to reinvent how we’ve been doing everything so far? Check.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has created a key moment in cultural and personal history. Right now we’re in the impossible – everything is upside down. This is an opportunity to assess how we did things in the past, reframe our subconscious habits, and replace them with intentions and stretch goals for how we want to be. This process will pivot who we are in our careers and businesses.
How everything has been done so far has gotten us to today, but it will not get us where we need to go.
We are culturally programmed to have subconscious habitual reactions to danger, or when we feel attacked physically or emotionally. COVID-19 has put us in that mental state, but we don’t have to stay there.
Consider this scenario: You’ve spent a long day working. It’s 9 pm at night, you’re popping out for a bite to eat. When you reach your car, you see a body across the hood. The person is bleeding, but alive. What’s the first thing you do? Your choice reveals your habitual reaction to danger. Do you:
- immediately speak to the person? If so, you’re driven by the urge to act. You want to be helpful and valued.
- look around for a perpetrator? If so, you’re driven to avoid danger and ensure safety. Investigating is a habitual response.
- call 911? Or turn and look for another helper? If so, you’re acting to avoid danger by bringing in more resources to the scene.
This happened to me. It was February of 2019; it was snowing and below zero in Chicago. I was preoccupied as I systematically drove to meet a client downtown. I pulled up to the valet ta Soho House Chicago and reached over to pick up my bag from the passenger side seat while I opened my car door. Right then, a bicyclist hit my door, flipped over it, and hit the concrete. It’s called “getting doored.”
I hopped out of my car and rushed over to him and asked, “Are you okay?” Of course, he wasn’t okay. He was bleeding, his lip was split open and he had lost half his front tooth.
I was devastated. How could I have been so stupid? So preoccupied? So caught up in my own world that I hurt another human?? I had to do a lot of coaching around this with my coach. Needless to say, the man who I hit was a dream, he was so kind, humble and I couldn’t have asked to hit a better person. He was riding his back to his second job…get ready for this…he’s a dog walker.
Your mind and body send five warning signs that you’re in a stress response and about to step into your habitual reaction, according to Rich Litvin, author of The Prosperous Coach.
To figure out your warning signs, observe your body when you’re watching the news.
- Are you tense in your arms? Maybe your fists are clenching? That’s the fight response.
- Are you tempted to flee or avoid the situation? That’s the flight response.
- Did you hold your breath or feel your body freeze?
- Does your head feel faint or go fuzzy?
- Or, do you want to take care of everybody else instead of yourself? That’s the fawn response.
Luckily, you can easily get out of these default stress responses with a few simple movements.
- fight response, ooze the energy out of your body to get rid of the stress.
- flight response, take a wide sumo stance and feel your feet rooted to the earth.
- freeze response, wiggle and jump to get back into your body.
- faint response, open your eyes wide.
- fuzzy response, make eye contact and smile to connect with someone.
- And, lastly, for the fawn response, hug and squeeze yourself – literally. Get out of your mind and back into your body.
The good news is, we have a choice. We have this moment in time during the COVID-19 global pandemic to get present to what is, be aware of our habitual responses and get ahead of what’s a default habit for us.
And, even though everything is changing on an hourly basis, we can anchor into how we want to feel and how we want to act.