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“I’ve been absolutely frightened every moment of my life– and I have actually never ever let it keep me from doing a single thing I wished to do.”— Georgia O’Keeffe, American Modernist artist At our most essential

level people are merely living organisms, and like every species we need to follow 3 essential guidelines of survival; we need to avoid getting eliminated, we should eat to make it through, and we must recreate. The Three Fs: Fear. Food. Fornicate. These standard survival instincts (to get away or combat something that might eliminate us, to consume whatever we can and to procreate) have actually been hardwired into us given that we were cavewomen and cavemen.

Fear is our body/brain security mechanism, in the ideal context fear is our pal. As a cavewoman, if you left your cave and all of a sudden saw a sabretooth tiger, your adrenaline started and offered you much-needed energy to eliminate it or flee, (due to the fact that you weren’t smelling the roses!).

For the survival of the types, we have been hardwired so that if any of the 3 basic human requirements of:

are threatened, a ‘fight or flight’ survival response reaction be triggeredSet off Fear keeps us alive.

The understanding nerve system controls how we react to risk or risk. When the brain activates the ‘battle or flight’ response, adrenaline gets launched into the body, muscles contract, the heart rate boosts, pupils dilate, we begin sweating and non-critical functions closed down, permitting us to put energy into core functions like fleing.

However it’s 2020, we do not live in caves, where being linked to each other is crucial to our survival, and there are no sabretooth tigers, yet we are still hardwired with the same fight or flight actions, which are helpful in certain situations but can cause illogical reactions at other times.

For instance, you need to write a crucial report, however the perfectionist in you is afraid of failure (your sense of individual dignity is threatened) and you keep putting it off and discovering other things to do. This action is you freezing. Procrastination if the most prevalent kind of freeze reaction. Your brain is stopping you from doing something that it thinks about a threat to your individual self-respect, it saves you from yourself by distracting you to do anything instead of the report.

Your daughter gets home from school and tells you she is being left out, the cool girls will not ‘let her in’. Her sense of love and connection and personal dignity are being threatened, as are yours. What do you do? Your child has probably currently attempted numerous actions, you may choose to fulfill the instructors or the other moms and dad (fawn), you may snap and demand action (fight), or you may wind up leaving that school since it does not get fixed (leave).

What occurs when the threat is genuine but can’t be seen, we can’t escape from it and it does not go away; like Covid-19? We saw the reactions of individuals, fear sent people out shopping, queuing, hoarding and keeping away from each other. We likewise saw a tidal bore of the FIGHT response to the danger to human dignity on the killing of George Floyd. These are strong responses that we feel, that can take us over.

Our sympathetic nerve system keeps us alive with its early caution system, being stickier to negative ideas, constantly searching for danger, etc. If we remain in this increased state of anxiety for too long it can have long term health effects. The Mayo Center research on the long-lasting activation of the stress-response system and the too much exposure to cortisol and other tensionhormones that follows can disrupt nearly all your body’s processes.

How can we decrease our physical reaction to fear? The crucial to discovering calm depend on our capability to activate our parasympathetic nerve system. This is the system that produces the ‘rest and absorb’ state of calm. Research on the vagus nerve– the primary network in the parasympathetic nerve system– recommends that if we can’t find a method to combat or flee from danger (the school bully/ Covid-19), and we can’t find a method to connect to others (friends outside school/ singing from balconies) we may dissociate entirely, so we must address it.

Connection to another person and even linking deeply to yourself by doing a grounding or centering activity will activate the ventral vagal nerve and bring calm to the mind and body.

The ventral vagal system is a set of nerves that runs up from your diaphragm across your lungs, neck, throat, and eyes to your brain stem. Therefore, activities that include these parts of your body send messages to your brain that you are safe.

It truly works to smile when you are feeling anxious, particularly if you smile at someone, making eye contact and smiling ‘with your eyes’! Taking long sluggish, deep breaths and breathing out for longer than you breath in is incredibly effective, as are singing and humming. All these actions tell your brain you are safe. And by relaxing yourself you then allow yourself to think more logically and address concerns with a clear mind. You respond instead of react.

Our bodies react faster than our minds so by listening to the signals our body provides us– heat rising our chest, neck and face, breath accelerating, fists clenching, arms crossing– we can manage our signs, pause and respond instead of respond.

So far you have been concentrated on your ideas, this week your research is to return in tune with your body– what is it telling you?