A supplemental article to the Folk U Friday podcast

By Hayley Newell, Registered Therapeutic Counsellor

Yesterday I spoke briefly on Cortes Radio on the topic of fear and what we can do about it during this pandemic. 

The first thing I want to share: Your feelings of fear are completely valid. We are facing a huge unknown. How long will this last? What Impact will it have on my livelihood? Will I get sick? The list goes on. 

Acknowledge Your Fear

Instead of trying to stop the feelings of fear, take a deep breath and acknowledge them. This is a bold and brave thing to do. 

It is completely valid and healthy to share with your friends, parents, partners AND children that you feel afraid. This allows for you to meet each other and your children in this experience and do something about it, together. 

We tend to want to stay calm and keep everything together for our children and family. This makes sense – and, children pick up on everything in their environment. If you are scared they will feel it. If you are anxious, angry, confused, numb, they know it. 

So instead try to name it to tame it. “You know, I feel a bit scared right now.” or “I am not sure how I am feeling. Things are really confusing right now.” 

When you can name your true feelings the people around you feel your congruence (how you are feeling and what you say you are feeling match). This is the foundation of trust. 

From this place of meeting each other, you can take action. 

Note: Make sure you are in a place to respond rather than react before talking to your kiddos. If you are feeling reactive, try some of the things mentioned below first, then talk! 

Come Back To The Present

The easiest ways to come back to the present moment is through the senses – through the body. 

  1. Take breaths. At first do not try to change it. Just notice it. Then, see if you can match your inhales to exhales. If you are really worked up, try elongating your exhale.
  2. Press on your “self-containment” muscles. These are your big thigh muscles and the muscles down the sides of your arms. Press and squeeze these body parts.
  3. Move move move! Go for walks, dance, jump up and down, go for a run, create an obstacle course with your kids, roll back and forth on the floor, press against a wall, hang upside down off the side of a bed.
  4. Splash cold water on your face from the chim upwards, or finish your shower with cold water.
  5. Sing and hum!
  6. Snuggle, cuddle, wrap up in a heavy blanket
  7. Give or receive a massage, or give yourself a massage
  8. Rub the sides of your neck
  9. Go for a walk outside and notice what you see, hear, smell – and taste! (If you know what you are doing)

The Unknown Is Simply Unknown

The unknown is very threatening to our brain. But remember – the unknown is simply that. Unknown. We take all the possibilities we can think of and project them on to the unknown. This is what causes anxiety. There are lots of ways we can help ourselves do this less, and to bring ourselves back to this moment. 

From a connected place, you can talk about the things you feel afraid of, and figure out what you can do. If you feel scared that you cannot see a certain friend or family member, what can you do? Perhaps you can call them or make them a gift to give them later. If you feel scared about your health situation, what are some things that can support your health at this time? 

I will be talking about the nervous system on the radio on April 17th if you would like to join me.