Golden

Coping with Coronavirus: the Impact and 20 Ways to Minimize Fear

Coping with Coronavirus: the Impact and 20 Ways to Minimize Fear
Chronic fear impacts our physical health, memory, brain processing, and our mental health. This article will explain what happens in our brains and bodies when we experience fear and ways that we can move from fear to resilience.

We feel the emotion fear when we are threatened. The perceived threat can be either physical, psychological, or emotional and can also be real or imagined. We often think of emotions like fear or anger as bad, but every emotion serves a purpose. Fear can help to keep us safe by motivating us to take action that will prevent us from harm. Some of us enjoy being afraid, and we purposely watch scary movies or engage in high-risk adventures such as skydiving.

Hard-wired to detect and respond to danger

Our brains are hard-wired to respond to danger. Our nervous system continually takes in sensory information from our environment and from physiological responses to access risk. Most of us are familiar with fight, flight, or freeze, but there is also a response named appease. Each of these is a physiological response expressed in behavior. The term neuroception, coined by Dr. Stephen Porges, describes how our neural circuitry consistently distinguishes whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ938225

Our bodies respond to fear

Several physiological changes occur in response to fear. In a fight or flight response, our breath and heart rates increase. Our peripheral blood vessels constrict, and our central blood vessels dilate to flood vital organs with oxygen and nutrients. Blood rushes to our muscles, and blood sugar levels can spike to provide energy. Our bloodstream may also have an increase in white blood cells and calcium. Our stomach and pancreas inhibit digestion while the adrenal glands stimulate the secretion of epinephrine. Adrenalin and dopamine levels rise, and the production of tears, salivation, and hearing is reduced. Tunnel vision may occur as our pupils dilate to improve visual acuity.

A freeze response may occur when there is a perceived threat to safety, connection, or dignity. (Amanda Blake, Body=Brain www.embright.org) In a freeze response, we may dissociate, play dead, or engage in passive avoidance. Our pupils contract and heart and breathing rates slow down.

When we respond to a perceived threat to safety, connection, or dignity by appeasing, we are attempting to accommodate or submit to minimize further danger. All of these responses are normal.

How fear processed in the brain

The amygdala plays a vital role in processing emotions, including fear. Trauma responses and memories are stored in the amygdala. The amygdala is closely related to the hippocampus (memory recall) and the prefrontal cortex, which help the brain interpret the perceived threat.  (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-happens-brain-feel-fear-180966992/) When the amygdala is activated, it triggers the hypothalamus, which prompts the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland connects the nervous system to the endocrine (hormonal) system. Once the adrenal gland activates, epinephrine flows to the bloodstream. The body then releases cortisol and over 1,400 other chemicals that negatively affect the body. (HeartMath® Training)

Chronic fear impacts us

In my last article, I wrote that “if we continue to experience an emotion for hours or days, it will become a mood. Over time, if we stay in that mood, it will become a temperament and eventually a personality trait.” (https://livingupstatesc.com/being-compassionate-in-a-time-of-crisis/) Additionally, when we live in constant fear, our bodies, mental health, brain function, and memory can suffer.

  1. Physical Health
    Chronic fear weakens our immune system, which makes us more susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections. It can also affect our cardiovascular health and create gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and even irritable bowel syndrome. Living in fear for an extended time can lead to premature aging and early death.
  2. Mental Health
    Feeling constant perceived threat can lead to fatigue and serious diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  3. Brain Function
    The ability to regulate emotions, read non-verbal clues, reflect before responding, and act ethically are all processes in the brain that can be disrupted. Chronic fear leads to poor decision making, intense emotions, and inappropriate reactions.
  4. Memory
    The hippocampus (memory recall) can be damaged, which impairs the formation of long-term memories. Regulating fear becomes more difficult. (https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/impact-fear-and-anxiety)

Shifting from Chronic Fear

Thankfully, there are many easy actions we can take to minimize the effects of fear in our lives. It is impossible to live in fear and, at the same time, experience the good in the present moment. Below is a partial list of specific actions we can take to minimize the intensity. Trust your heart and pick a couple of practices that appeal to you.

  1. Be aware of your emotions for a few minutes. We can’t run from them, but when we face them, they lose their intensity.
  2. Address fear by talking about it, writing about it, or merely thinking about it with curiosity. When we pay attention, we can ask ourselves questions like, “How is this emotion serving me?” or “What action can I take to create good at this moment?” or “What can this teach me?”
  3. Move your body. Dance, Run, Walk, engage in a physical exertion that pushes you beyond your perceived limits.
  4. Turn off the news. Today’s news and is designed to keep you watching. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening to the press. If it elicits fear, limit the amount of time you watch each day.
  5. Limit social media. Pay attention to sensations in your body as you scroll and read posts. Block or hide posts that cause you to feel fearful.
  6. Take slow, deep breaths. These breaths signal to the brain that we are safe, and the intensity of the emotion diminishes.
  7. Reach out to friends or loved ones.
  8. Write down what you are thankful for in your life. Keep the list out so that you can add to it when things come to mind. Review the list when you are in an uncomfortable place.
  9. Allow yourself to reflect on what you are thankful for and notice when the feeling of gratitude shifts you from fear.
  10. The brain does not know the difference between fake laughter and real laughter. Watch a laughter yoga video on YouTube if you need help stimulating laughter. Watch a favorite comedy. Remember and share funny stories of things that happened in your past.
  11. Reflect on times when you have felt strong, secure, and courageous.
  12. Change your body posture. Stand up and assume a powerful pose and hold it for three minutes.
  13. Be kind to yourself. Engage in favorite activities that make you feel alive. What do you do that makes you completely lose track of time?
  14. Question your thoughts. Just because you think them, doesn’t mean they are true.
  15. Reread a favorite book.
  16. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid sugar.
  17. Help others – get creative in this time of isolation.
  18. Pray for guidance and peace.
  19. Seek out a mentor or a coach.
  20. Trust your inner wisdom.

By engaging in the activities listed above, we can regulate our emotions, manage our energy, and reduce stress. Fear is external but can become internal, which becomes anxiety.

Would you like to learn more? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute Zoom conversation.

September 2020

  • Coping with Coronavirus: the Impact and 20 Ways to Minimize Fear

    Chronic fear impacts our physical health, memory, brain processing, and our mental health. This article will explain what happens in our brains and bodies when we experience fear and ways that we can move from fear to resilience. We feel the emotion fear when we are threatened. The perceived threat can be either physical, psychological, or emotional and can also be real or imagined. We often think of emotions like fear or anger as bad, but every emotion serves a purpose. Fear can help to keep us safe by motivating us to take action that will prevent us from harm. […]

    Read More

September 2019

  • Does Cultural Fit make for Group Think?

    In advising clients we often mention the cultural fit of an organization.  Do you like ping pong tables next to your desk?  Is the organization one where all-nighters are part of how the work gets done?  In looking at culture on your way in you certainly want one where your core values are in alignment.  Violating this maxim creates a stressful work environment.  I would suggest that if you do take a position violating the rule of alignment of your basic core values (the gap between your values and the values of the organization) you create a space for stress […]

    Read More

August 2019

  • Are You Agile Enough?

    What does it mean to be agile?  How many businesses do you know that espouse agility but couldn’t find it in the dictionary?  There are a lot of demands in the commercial world-Faster-Better-Cheaper.  And on top of that the other guys—whoever they may be—are already doing it, so now you’re in catch up mode.  In this WSJ article by Sue Shellenbarger she discusses the pros, cons and potential harm of corporate agility.  Enjoy!!!

    Read More
  • Overqualified or Unemployed, What Kind of Choice is That?

    Ok, you’ve got great experience, killer credentials, you score the first interview, then the second.  And then you get the call, “we appreciate your submittal and participation in this process, however we going with a candidate who is a closer match to our needs.”  “Wait” you say, “my resume looks almost exactly like your requirements, in fact a little better.” “Too much,” they say, “you’re OVERQUALIFIED.”  The kiss of death, or is it?  Organizations want hungry applicants who meet their needs but not too much experience.  Sometimes the overqualified rejection seems like a veiled age discrimination, but it can happen […]

    Read More

July 2019

  • Boss Management 201

    So ….. have a new boss?  And perhaps you’ve heard off bosses like this — demanding, unrealistically demanding, not supportive, perhaps you’ve even questioned they’re emotional stability with other members of the management team.  A little while back we had a GCS Roundtable discussion on boss management, we touched briefly on how to engage and manage bosses like this.  Bosses who aren’t team players who impressed the hiring committee with their take charge, self-confidence, change agent presentation. You can’t hide from such a leader.  In fact, you mustn’t take these tirades, or put downs personally. This is your opportunity to […]

    Read More

May 2019

  • The Challenges of Finding that First Job

    The ever changing career market throws challenges at seekers as they try to out think employers desires.  I have seen a number of graduates working hard to give employers what they want.  First a graduate degree, then intern experience and now it would seem that job experience helps to set one apart from the crowd.  How does a student and ultimately a graduate find and secure the position they desire? First, have a target.  Internships, graduate degrees and work experience will not add much to your resume if there isn’t a target in mind.  As you gather your education create […]

    Read More

March 2019

  • Making your next interview work for you

    Perhaps you’ve had this experience, you interview with a potential new employer, or for a promotion/job change within your existing employer, its a great interview from your standpoint but you don’t get the nod. It isn’t always easy to find that right combination to get to that next step and I don’t have a silver bullet to offer you to overcome resistance. But, you can make some extra preparations for that interview. Be prepared to tell a story about how you overcame adversity to meet a goal. Include as many details as appropriate, you see we remember stories, particularly real […]

    Read More

February 2019

  • Promotions can Change more than just your office.

    So you’ve been at your current position for sometime, you’ve achieved some success and you’ve established a number of relationships. The boss, noticing your effort and your success, extends a promotion. Its just what you were hoping for, more salary and the chance to impact the direction of your organization. You turn around to celebrate with your friends and … where did they go? You’d like to think that a title change would not affect your relationships, but it does. How you manage that effectively is key to avoid misunderstanding and confusion, In this article from the Wall Street Journal, […]

    Read More

January 2019

  • Another reorganization, is it time to head for the exit?

    We’ve all experienced a company reorganization. Sometimes its economically driven, sometimes it is new ownership, it always causes anxiety. It often surprised me how quickly my co-workers would want to head for the exits before the reorganization was fully rolled out, before they knew how it might affect them. There’s a great deal of emotion expended in a reorganization many times leading to irrational choices. My question often was how can moving to a new company you don’t really know be better than staying where you are and finding out your new role? But, sometimes its just reorg fatigue, too […]

    Read More
  • Is it time in your career to yield, make a u-turn, or exit?

    We all work hard to make our careers a success. This can be a detailed plan, it might be an opportunistic path as others pursue you, or it could be that as you reach each point you merely look for the next step. In many situations there comes a time of re-evaluation. Is this leading to where I thought I was headed? Can I afford to stay in this job? Do I have to check my personal values at the door each day to follow through on my assignments. Under conditions where you are challenged each day, where the space […]

    Read More

December 2018

  • The Impromptu Speech, rational or rambling?

    Some years ago the manufacturing company where I was VP was about to embark on a major change.  It was important enough that the president wanted to hold a company wide meeting first thing on Monday morning.  Over the weekend I considered how I would approach this topic and the major points.  Monday morning we settled into our cafeteria, the only room big enough, the president came in and started.  “I suppose you’re all wondering why we’re meeting this morning” … “Steve’s got something to tell you,” he said pointing at me.  Wow, talk about impromptu.  I was blessed.  I […]

    Read More
  • Career Advice in 3 Words

    Everyday we get advice from all around us.  What to do, what not to do, the best phone, car, etc.  Here is some great investment advice:  Invest in Yourself!  As The Golden Course strives to impress upon clients — reflection upon and improvement of your skills is always valuable.  The skills we focus on and hone during our coaching serve clients not only in their career search, but in community, family and in their new career.  In this Inc. article Warren Buffet speaks to the value of Investing in Yourself.  Advice can be basic, but even basic advice is important.  Cement […]

    Read More

November 2018

  • Gratitude makes for happier people, and a more successful business

    Ah, the simple things.  Gratitude.  Grateful people are happy people.  “What have I got to be grateful for?” you might ask.  Indeed, there are those days, those seasons in our life when we might start to believe that we don’t have much to be thankful for.  Perhaps our boss steals our ideas, haven’t had a review or raise in 3 years, the company let me go with no warning or negative feedback ever, my co-workers are cliquish,  and my secretary talks behind my back.   It certainly sound like we’re asking you to drink the Kool-Aid to say there is a […]

    Read More
  • Does it pay to be nice?

    So, is civility just a garnish on the plate of business?  We grew up learning how to be nice to those around us, sometimes that gets lost in the busyness of business.  I recall an incident years ago, the factory had a high pressure line break and I shouted to the supervisor to, “Go, shut it off right now!”   He stopped came back and asked if it was too much trouble for me to say, “Please.”  I was completely taken aback.  That said, I have been guilty in the past of sacrificing relationship on the altar of expediency.  I did […]

    Read More

October 2018

  • What is Leadership and Who make the best Leaders?

    For a long time businesses have looked for that over the top, larger than life personality to lead.  But is that really what benefits the organization.  Think about the leaders you’ve known in your work life, think about historical leaders and consider what traits serve best.  Oh, sure there is the strong leader who is able to push, pull, or throw the organization against a goal, but what is the steady form of leadership that draws the best out of the team.  A super star doesn’t get the job done, unless the rest of the team is engaged and plays […]

    Read More

July 2018

  • Less is more … Happiness comes in small packages

    So what is the basis of happiness?  We often hear money can’t buy happiness, but then most of our time, attention, and effort goes into making more money.  Happiness just may be aligning our efforts with our core values, the more divergent our work is from our core values the more stress and anxiety we experience.  But there is more, sometimes we need to get the stuff out of the way.  Check out this TED talk called, “Less stuff, More Happiness.”

    Read More
  • Change takes time…

    We can be in a big hurry to move through change, to gain closure, to put it all behind us.  But is this really the case?  Change, whether it is perceived as good or bad requires us to leave something behind.  When we graduate we leave behind some rather happy times as a student.  When we marry we leave the single life, and even though we prefer to be married (most days), we have to recognize that we have chosen a new life over the old. The old life is not forgotten, nor do we want to put it behind […]

    Read More

Change takes time…

We can be in a big hurry to move through change, to gain closure, to put it all behind us.  But is this really the case?  Change, whether it is perceived as good or bad requires us to leave something behind.  When we graduate we leave behind some rather happy times as a student.  When we marry we leave the single life, and even though we prefer to be married (most days), we have to recognize that we have chosen a new life over the old.

The old life is not forgotten, nor do we want to put it behind us.  The experiences we have had made us who we are and this time of separation from the old prepares us to embrace the new wholeheartedly.  In the case of promotion or new responsibilities, we need to try on the ‘clothes’ of the new job, work in them, make them our own.  This is not instantaneous.  Just as a car cannot turn 90° at speed, or go from forward to reverse without a pause it is the same in our lives.

At a time of loss, change, or gain, we experience a slack moment, a fallow time, to rest and reconnoiter before moving on.  This transition can be short or long and is entirely dependent on each of us and the circumstances we are managing.  The point is we are the sum total of our experiences, we don’t leave them behind but carry them forward in a new way, even as we move in a new direction, changed but still the same-always in transition.

September 2020

  • Coping with Coronavirus: the Impact and 20 Ways to Minimize Fear

    Chronic fear impacts our physical health, memory, brain processing, and our mental health. This article will explain what happens in our brains and bodies when we experience fear and ways that we can move from fear to resilience. We feel the emotion fear when we are threatened. The perceived threat can be either physical, psychological, or emotional and can also be real or imagined. We often think of emotions like fear or anger as bad, but every emotion serves a purpose. Fear can help to keep us safe by motivating us to take action that will prevent us from harm. […]

    Read More

September 2019

  • Does Cultural Fit make for Group Think?

    In advising clients we often mention the cultural fit of an organization.  Do you like ping pong tables next to your desk?  Is the organization one where all-nighters are part of how the work gets done?  In looking at culture on your way in you certainly want one where your core values are in alignment.  Violating this maxim creates a stressful work environment.  I would suggest that if you do take a position violating the rule of alignment of your basic core values (the gap between your values and the values of the organization) you create a space for stress […]

    Read More

August 2019

  • Are You Agile Enough?

    What does it mean to be agile?  How many businesses do you know that espouse agility but couldn’t find it in the dictionary?  There are a lot of demands in the commercial world-Faster-Better-Cheaper.  And on top of that the other guys—whoever they may be—are already doing it, so now you’re in catch up mode.  In this WSJ article by Sue Shellenbarger she discusses the pros, cons and potential harm of corporate agility.  Enjoy!!!

    Read More
  • Overqualified or Unemployed, What Kind of Choice is That?

    Ok, you’ve got great experience, killer credentials, you score the first interview, then the second.  And then you get the call, “we appreciate your submittal and participation in this process, however we going with a candidate who is a closer match to our needs.”  “Wait” you say, “my resume looks almost exactly like your requirements, in fact a little better.” “Too much,” they say, “you’re OVERQUALIFIED.”  The kiss of death, or is it?  Organizations want hungry applicants who meet their needs but not too much experience.  Sometimes the overqualified rejection seems like a veiled age discrimination, but it can happen […]

    Read More

July 2019

  • Boss Management 201

    So ….. have a new boss?  And perhaps you’ve heard off bosses like this — demanding, unrealistically demanding, not supportive, perhaps you’ve even questioned they’re emotional stability with other members of the management team.  A little while back we had a GCS Roundtable discussion on boss management, we touched briefly on how to engage and manage bosses like this.  Bosses who aren’t team players who impressed the hiring committee with their take charge, self-confidence, change agent presentation. You can’t hide from such a leader.  In fact, you mustn’t take these tirades, or put downs personally. This is your opportunity to […]

    Read More

May 2019

  • The Challenges of Finding that First Job

    The ever changing career market throws challenges at seekers as they try to out think employers desires.  I have seen a number of graduates working hard to give employers what they want.  First a graduate degree, then intern experience and now it would seem that job experience helps to set one apart from the crowd.  How does a student and ultimately a graduate find and secure the position they desire? First, have a target.  Internships, graduate degrees and work experience will not add much to your resume if there isn’t a target in mind.  As you gather your education create […]

    Read More

March 2019

  • Making your next interview work for you

    Perhaps you’ve had this experience, you interview with a potential new employer, or for a promotion/job change within your existing employer, its a great interview from your standpoint but you don’t get the nod. It isn’t always easy to find that right combination to get to that next step and I don’t have a silver bullet to offer you to overcome resistance. But, you can make some extra preparations for that interview. Be prepared to tell a story about how you overcame adversity to meet a goal. Include as many details as appropriate, you see we remember stories, particularly real […]

    Read More

February 2019

  • Promotions can Change more than just your office.

    So you’ve been at your current position for sometime, you’ve achieved some success and you’ve established a number of relationships. The boss, noticing your effort and your success, extends a promotion. Its just what you were hoping for, more salary and the chance to impact the direction of your organization. You turn around to celebrate with your friends and … where did they go? You’d like to think that a title change would not affect your relationships, but it does. How you manage that effectively is key to avoid misunderstanding and confusion, In this article from the Wall Street Journal, […]

    Read More

January 2019

  • Another reorganization, is it time to head for the exit?

    We’ve all experienced a company reorganization. Sometimes its economically driven, sometimes it is new ownership, it always causes anxiety. It often surprised me how quickly my co-workers would want to head for the exits before the reorganization was fully rolled out, before they knew how it might affect them. There’s a great deal of emotion expended in a reorganization many times leading to irrational choices. My question often was how can moving to a new company you don’t really know be better than staying where you are and finding out your new role? But, sometimes its just reorg fatigue, too […]

    Read More
  • Is it time in your career to yield, make a u-turn, or exit?

    We all work hard to make our careers a success. This can be a detailed plan, it might be an opportunistic path as others pursue you, or it could be that as you reach each point you merely look for the next step. In many situations there comes a time of re-evaluation. Is this leading to where I thought I was headed? Can I afford to stay in this job? Do I have to check my personal values at the door each day to follow through on my assignments. Under conditions where you are challenged each day, where the space […]

    Read More

December 2018

  • The Impromptu Speech, rational or rambling?

    Some years ago the manufacturing company where I was VP was about to embark on a major change.  It was important enough that the president wanted to hold a company wide meeting first thing on Monday morning.  Over the weekend I considered how I would approach this topic and the major points.  Monday morning we settled into our cafeteria, the only room big enough, the president came in and started.  “I suppose you’re all wondering why we’re meeting this morning” … “Steve’s got something to tell you,” he said pointing at me.  Wow, talk about impromptu.  I was blessed.  I […]

    Read More
  • Career Advice in 3 Words

    Everyday we get advice from all around us.  What to do, what not to do, the best phone, car, etc.  Here is some great investment advice:  Invest in Yourself!  As The Golden Course strives to impress upon clients — reflection upon and improvement of your skills is always valuable.  The skills we focus on and hone during our coaching serve clients not only in their career search, but in community, family and in their new career.  In this Inc. article Warren Buffet speaks to the value of Investing in Yourself.  Advice can be basic, but even basic advice is important.  Cement […]

    Read More

November 2018

  • Gratitude makes for happier people, and a more successful business

    Ah, the simple things.  Gratitude.  Grateful people are happy people.  “What have I got to be grateful for?” you might ask.  Indeed, there are those days, those seasons in our life when we might start to believe that we don’t have much to be thankful for.  Perhaps our boss steals our ideas, haven’t had a review or raise in 3 years, the company let me go with no warning or negative feedback ever, my co-workers are cliquish,  and my secretary talks behind my back.   It certainly sound like we’re asking you to drink the Kool-Aid to say there is a […]

    Read More
  • Does it pay to be nice?

    So, is civility just a garnish on the plate of business?  We grew up learning how to be nice to those around us, sometimes that gets lost in the busyness of business.  I recall an incident years ago, the factory had a high pressure line break and I shouted to the supervisor to, “Go, shut it off right now!”   He stopped came back and asked if it was too much trouble for me to say, “Please.”  I was completely taken aback.  That said, I have been guilty in the past of sacrificing relationship on the altar of expediency.  I did […]

    Read More

October 2018

  • What is Leadership and Who make the best Leaders?

    For a long time businesses have looked for that over the top, larger than life personality to lead.  But is that really what benefits the organization.  Think about the leaders you’ve known in your work life, think about historical leaders and consider what traits serve best.  Oh, sure there is the strong leader who is able to push, pull, or throw the organization against a goal, but what is the steady form of leadership that draws the best out of the team.  A super star doesn’t get the job done, unless the rest of the team is engaged and plays […]

    Read More

July 2018

  • Less is more … Happiness comes in small packages

    So what is the basis of happiness?  We often hear money can’t buy happiness, but then most of our time, attention, and effort goes into making more money.  Happiness just may be aligning our efforts with our core values, the more divergent our work is from our core values the more stress and anxiety we experience.  But there is more, sometimes we need to get the stuff out of the way.  Check out this TED talk called, “Less stuff, More Happiness.”

    Read More
  • Change takes time…

    We can be in a big hurry to move through change, to gain closure, to put it all behind us.  But is this really the case?  Change, whether it is perceived as good or bad requires us to leave something behind.  When we graduate we leave behind some rather happy times as a student.  When we marry we leave the single life, and even though we prefer to be married (most days), we have to recognize that we have chosen a new life over the old. The old life is not forgotten, nor do we want to put it behind […]

    Read More