I imagine at this point you are aware that there is a deadly pandemic sweeping the world. Actually there are two. But the COVID-19 one is getting plenty of coverage. The other pandemic is fear. Let me be clear, there is definitely danger to COVID-19, and I am not trying to downplay it. We are still in what is likely the early stages here in the United States and we just got notice about school closures for my kids next week. But I am equally (if not more) more concerned about the fear pandemic. There is a big difference between intentional preparedness and living in fear. So why am I concerned about the fear?
Well fear actually shuts down your immune system. You can look into all the hormonal science of the sympathetic vs. parasympathetic nervous system if you want (I actually find it fascinating myself). But if you just think about it from a functional standpoint, it makes sense. If your body thinks you are supposed to be running from a tiger or fighting some external threat, it leverages all of its energy to do that. Think about the last time you were sick and just wanted to lay in bed. That’s how much energy your immune system uses to function. When you are in a fear situation, you can’t afford energy to fight a virus, so your body is smart enough to redirect to your extremities so you can run and fight.
What does that mean for the modern pandemic? Well, first off, the more afraid you are, the more compromised your immune system is. That means you are all the more likely to catch the COVID-19 virus and not be able to fight it off. In a very real sense, fear could kill you.
But it’s more sinister than that. Because even if you never catch COVID-19, your immune system is compromised to every other threat. Most of us make cancer cells on a daily basis. But our immune systems handle them. Fear of the external virus could increase your risk of cancer. It could increase your risk of getting a regular influenza or some other illness. The fear, if maintained for a long period, could kill you just as surely as catching the novel virus. The only difference is, fear makes you susceptible to hundreds of things that could kill you slowly and painfully.
So what do we do? How do we just stop being afraid? Maybe if the government makes better choices, that will soothe our fear? Probably not. Governments thrive on fear. Another symptom of fear is that our body reroutes blood flow from unnecessary parts of our brain, meaning we get dumber. Fear and stupidity together make a nation easier to control.
If we can’t rely on governments to deal with our fear, what can we do? Well there are lots of things you can do. The simplest is just to breathe. If you breathe intentionally and deeply, your nervous system starts getting the message that the danger has passed.
If you want to do more than breathing, I recommend looking into meditation or some esoteric discipline like yoga or Tai Chi. Breathing and meditating (or being mindful) seems to work pretty well for me.
Turns out you don’t even have to leave your home to learn this stuff. There’s so many online classes you can find, it’s actually harder to pick one than it is to find one. Below are a few of the sites I have used for my own learning about these topics. Some of them cost money, so if you are looking for freebies, start with Google and YouTube. Do what you can to get yourself out of a fear state. It could save your life.
Resources I have used:
–Meditation & Relaxation: Guided Meditation (android app)
–Headspace – meditation app (I used their free version but didn’t use it enough to justify the monthly cost)
–Wim Hof – breathing exercises & cold therapy (has a free mini-course on his website or you can download the app)
–Gaia.com – Has a lot of material that I find a little off-putting, but there’s a lot of great stuff on meditation and yoga.
Note: These are what have worked for me. But not everyone functions the same. If it doesn’t fit for you, great! Just move on to find something that works for you.