And who has not has some interaction with COVID-19? According to the World Health Organization as of May 6th, 2020 the following countries haven’t reported any cases of COVID-19: Comoros, Lesotho, Turkmenistan, North Korea, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue and Palau. The debate is out if these islands were mostly spared because the countries were quickly locked down, preventing travel and tourism. Hm… Take to mind no cases have been reported versus no reported cases. I enjoy debates (to the dread of ex’s) and often get accused of not giving direct answers. My job is to get us to think outside the box.
Even if North Korea has no reported cases everyone around the world, including North Korea, has been “COVID-19ed.” Daily we hear the word, COVID-19. We evidence the impact of the virus in seeing people wearing masks, stepping aside to others to pass, limiting human contact, and yes, even those that are openly rebelling against the virus and share a pint or two. My boyfriend schooled me that when we go to the store we go to buy not to shop. Gone are the days of pursuing the isles for the sale or tasting the grapes. The word COVID-19 is heard daily on the TV, in the news, in written print, in electronic print. We can’t escape its tentacles. With the abundance of auditory and visual COVID-19 stimuli how can help but be anxious or stressed?
So glad you asked or hopeful you thought about the question. Let’s get some background first. Our brains get hijacked. To be more specific our amygdala gets hijacked. The amygdala is where emotions are given meaning and attached to associations and responses to them (emotional memories). When sensing a threat our smoke detector goes off and automatically activates the fight-or-flight response. We are groomed by design to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. You are not feeling anxious or stressed because you want to; it happens automatically. Let me repeat that, you don’t feel anxious, stressed, or afraid because you want to; no, your natural instinct to survive kicks in.
Our smoke detector goes off warning us something is up which then signals our neural pathway to our prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC gets the alarm and starts to shut down. When the PFC shuts down so does our orientation, our memories become skewed, our decision-making is compromised, and so does our access to multiple perspectives. I already stated, we don’t want to feel anxious, stressed, or with fear; it is an automatic response to survival. What we don’t want to do is to get stuck in the overwhelming emotion(s).
Emotions are neither good or bad. Emotions remind us we are humans. What are we to do in response to being COVID-19ed’? Offer ourselves compassion. We are living in unprecedented times. As our president said, “People have died that have never died before,” (thought I would add humor). Anxiety, Stress, and Fear are reminders that you are alive and are surviving. Thanks to neuroplasticity (Our brain capacity to adapt) we can alter the neuro pathways and ease the anxiety, stress, or fear.
COVID-19 may be prevalent in our world as a verb, let’s make it a noun. Ways to become de-COVID-19ed’: Listen to your favorite song, Dance when no one is watching, dance when they are watching, take a breathe break, go for walk, go for a run, watch nature, experience a sunrise, experience a sunset, make it point to be grateful for something each day. And stop being hard on yourself. Your amygdala has been activated; you are only human. Don’t ignore that truth just know it and live out your best life today. After all, we are only guaranteed the moment(s) we have now.