Grocery store

Managing Fear through Mindfulness During this Pandemic

If ever there was a time to take control of your mind then living in the middle of a pandemic is it! My heart is breaking for so many people around the world living in a constant state of fear and even though I know it is truly a scary time there are some ways that you can manage your fear and calm your mind.

Acknowledge your feelings.

Ignoring “feelings” never makes them go away. It may alleviate the situation briefly but they will eventually bubble back up and sometimes when you least expect it. I’ve found that when I just note how I’m feeling, then it already begins to take the sting out of my emotional response.

My best-case example for you is flying. I hate to fly even though I grew up flying and I still do it all the time for my job. At the first sign of turbulence, I’m a basket case. Even more so now after I was on a flight that nearly crashed on landing then nearly ran out of gas while attempting to circle until they could make another attempt at landing.

After committing to meditating over the past year, I’m reaping the beautiful benefits from it. Now my process during flying and times of great stress and fear for me is to first acknowledge it. “I am feeling scared,” I will say to myself. Which I know, seems so silly. But just validating how I’m feeling moves me on to my next step.

Choose to observe over reacting.

Then I will typically begin to make different observations which I prefer to say out loud, but I’m definitely thinking it if speaking isn’t appropriate at the moment. (I wouldn’t want to freak out my seatmates with crazy lady talk at 30,000 ft!)

“The plane just bounced. Look at the clouds we are going through. How beautiful is the lightning between the clouds? The flight attendants are sitting down.” I move from a state of reacting to observing things around me. Or observing the situation unemotionally and with objectivity.

I’m NOT thinking, “What if we crash? Can planes break in half?” You get the gist, which would be really easy to do. That’s my status quo. I’ve practiced freaking out for so long and I’ve chosen fear for so long that it’s become a habit.

It’s amazing to me when I begin naming the observations around me how much more calm I remain. I’ve learned to even mediate in times of great stress like this and return to my breath.

How does that work in a pandemic though?

I don’t know about you, but my grocery store is pretty empty. The second I walk in, I’m immediately stressed and quite frankly a little scared. “What if they run out of food? What if I can’t feed my kid or my cat for that matter?” It’s an emotional response to my experience and surroundings.

I return to my breath. Yep, right there in the grocery store. I calm my mind and begin observing. I purposefully begin to notice all the things the grocery store does have instead of all the things they don’t. “There are fresh blackberries. Look at how beautiful those onions are. Look at all the people helping one another.”

I came across a bunch of frozen Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheeses which my son loves. That’s the only thing that the grocery store is typically out of but today they had a bunch. I took two. I purposefully moved away from scarcity thinking and moved to abundant thinking. If they are gone the next time, then something else will be there. The universe will provide.

I’m definitely not judging anyone for stocking up on supplies and that doesn’t necessarily mean you are overreacting or living in a scarcity mindset. But for many people, they are financially unable to stock up on six months worth of supplies. I promise you, you will be okay. There are always helpers and they appear when you need them.

Speak phrases of comfort and reassurance.

Again, with the talking to yourself. Of which, I’m a big fan! Speaking these things out loud has an incredible impact on your brain. You are training your brain to move from fear to calm. These are some of the things I’m telling myself right now.

I have enough and will always have all I need.

I am safe.

I am resourceful.

I am happy.

I am calm.

I am at peace.

I will create good things in my life.

I am a help to others.

Then take a deep breath and turn to gratitude. I’m always thankful for safe flights but now I’m thankful for things that I haven’t put much thought into before. Like, the people who work at the grocery store. All of the people who are helping one another. The doctors and nurses who are putting their lives on the line for others. And yes, little things like blackberries and Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese.

We are going to be okay.

Author

donlynturnbull@gmail.com

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