Feeling Panicked? Manage the maniac that is your Self

- My son interacts with his classmates on a daily basis, does he have COVID-19?
- Do I have COVID-19?
- Did I give it to my elderly relatives?
Stress and Anxiety
You may read these questions and hear a replay of your own thoughts over the past few weeks. The current situation has, at some level, threatened our survival which causes an emotional, often irrational, response in us all.

Stress and anxiety alter us. There is a psychological response to a very real threat. It is one thing to watch this impact others from afar and be able to think rationally about how we will respond to it, and another when it knocks at your own door. 

Although we cannot always control the emotions that arise because of our circumstances, we can control what we do with these emotions, how we respond to the situation. There is a switch that is possible when, in the moment, we are able to step back and observe the emotions we are experiencing and then decide what we want to do with them, how we want to act. 
"Losing it"
In emotional situations, many of us use the term “losing it”. We can look back on situations and recognize that, in a time of emotion, we “lost it”. Often, this feels uncontrollable. It feels like an automatic response. However, there is power when we step back, give time, and observe ourselves losing ourselves. The power in stepping back from our immediate response is the realization that we are not trapped by our emotions. We can recognize our moods and make a different choice than the one that we are initially triggered toward. 

Right now, this is particularly obvious to many of us as we are faced with real and pressing fear, anxiety, and stress as we navigate through an unknown future with COVID-19. However, we experience this everyday on a more micro-level. 

Maybe someone says something to you in a meeting that sounds like an attack and immediately puts you on the defensive. Maybe you just realized that your project is not going to be finished by the deadline and stress and anxiety set in. 
Guide our moods

It is important to remember that we have the power to harness and guide our moods in these situations. You can alter your mood from feeling defensive to feeling curious, from perceiving an attack to deciphering why the other person might be feeling a certain way. This can be particularly useful with stress. We can hone in on the essential portions of a project and then harness stress for focus and motivation.

The ability to pull back, look at ourselves, and recognize how we are feeling, can make us more skillful in handling human situations. Although we do not always have control over our initial emotions that arise in response to our circumstances, we do have the power to control how we respond to these moods.


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