By now we all heard of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It causes cough, fever and shortness of breath and it’s now causing a worldwide pandemic.
As the pandemic unfolds, we are all experiencing a wide range of emotions from mind anxiety to serious panic. This is a frightening time, some people have already been affected by coronavirus while others are waiting in fear about what’s coming next.
It’s natural to feel anxious about the fear of the unknown that this pandemic is bringing, but this is a very difficult time if you have an anxiety disorder.
Coping With An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety helps us prepare to respond in a more adaptive and healthy way. Some people can tolerate some degree of discomfort and can manage their anxiety in a healthy manner, because overtime they’ve learned healthy coping mechanisms.
However, there are other people with anxiety disorders that have more trouble coping with this frightening time. If you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) you’re already suffering from chronic worrying that leads to catastrophic thinking and leads to increased anxiety and prevents you from taking action in an actual crisis.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
Having a Sense of Impending Doom
Increased Heart Rate
Anxiety and the Mind-Body Connection
I’ve written in this blog about the mind-body connection; our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively and negatively affect our physical health.
An example of this connection is the relationship between anxiety and your immune system; There’s evidence that too much anxiety can weaken your immune system. It puts stress on your body and releases the stress hormone cortisol, which is intended to be nature’s alarm system that activates your fight-or-flight response.
Cortisol weakens your immune system by weakening beneficial antibodies in an attempt to reduce inflammation when you’re under severe stress and it’s been known to move resources from other immunities such as T cells and white blood cells.
During this pandemic it’s very important to take a proactive approach toward managing anxiety and your overall health.
In Part.2, I’ll be discussing how I’ve been managing my anxiety during this crisis.
How Are You Coping With COVID-19 Stress and Anxiety?
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Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. It is the strength you need to face pain or grief and the strength in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or the global coronavirus pandemic.
The word courage originated from the Old French word “corage”, from the Latin word “cor”, which means ”heart”.
Why is Courage Important?
Courage is important if you want to begin something that you want to do or when you have to face a crisis. It allows you to act despite being fearful.
Courage is important for putting aside your fear of failure; especially if you have to venture off into the unknown or if you want to go for what you want. It’s important for overcoming anxiety characterized by the fear of rejection or self doubt caused by negative self talk.
Courage is more important than confidence. Confidence is very important; it comes from believing you can do something, but courage on the other hand is doing something despite being fearful.
Courage and Confidence are like yin and yang, because they depend on one another. Without courage we never develop confidence and a confident person can be brought down when facing a crisis if it weren’t for courage.
Examples of Courage?
Courage can come in all shapes and forms. It could come from you standing up for someone who’s being bullied, asking your crush on a date, racing into a burning building to save someone’s life or being courageous in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
We’ve been seeing 24/7 news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s been more of an emphasis on the negative things that many people have been doing in reaction to this crisis including attacking other people for their toilet paper or bottled water or the spreading of misinformation.
How about the awesome people who’ve been courageous since this crisis started?
There hasn’t been enough said about the moral courage from the doctors, nurses and other medical staff in the face of the intense challenges they’ve been facing and the one’s they’re facing right now.
Dr Helen Chu?
It was reported that in Seattle, Washington of epidemiologist Dr. Helen Chu demonstrated great moral courage by reporting critical data to health officials despite being told by federal authorities not to. There was a group of study participants she wanted to test for coronavirus to determine if it had arrived in Washington state, however she was denied authorization.
Despite being denied Dr. Chu still had an ethical obligation and went ahead with the testing anyway and found a teenager had tested positive for the virus despite not traveling abroad or contact history, demonstrating community spread. This information was sent to a public health official just before this teen was sent back to school. Even after all that the federal government served her with a cease and desist order.
Volunteers Rescuing Pets?
Here is a more lighthearted example of courage. There was a news story from Spain that I saw about pets that were left behind due to their owners getting sick with the coronavirus. A group of volunteers from the kindness of their hearts looked after these abandoned pets. If and when their owners recover and are released from the hospital they will be reunited with their pets.
How To Become More Courageous?
The examples written above show why courage is a universally admired quality that’s very important to have.
Ways To Become More Courageous Include:
Face The Fear of the Unknown: Becoming more courageous can be as simple as finding the cause of your fear, questioning what the cause of it is, accepting it, riding the wave of fear and learning to embrace change.
Use Relaxation Techniques: Fear can be paradoxal; a little bit of fear can amp you up and transform you into your best self and at the same time too much fear can shut you down and leave you stuck. It’s important to keep your physiological responses in check and this can be achieved by using relaxation techniques such as tactical breathing and mindful meditation.
Learn New Skills: There are many scenarios that involve risk and danger, it pays to develop a wide range of skills such as self-defense and first aid, to automotive repair and the ability to speak a foreign language. The more knowledge of what to do when trouble arises the braver a person you will be.
Think of Yourself Less: The more egocentric you are, the more scared you’re going to get about taking action. Egocentrism can lead to someone becoming more self-conscious about what other people think of them when and if they make a decision. This way of thinking leads to fear and anxiety that leads to decision paralysis and inaction.
Form Closer Relationships: Being from a culture that’s individualized and atomized (fragmented) we’re taught that drawing strength from being part of a group is something that’s negative. In reality it can be the opposite, because having close friends and family can cause you to act in a more positive and courageous way when a crisis occurs.
Do Something New Once a Week: At least once a week engage in something that will make a little nervous or scared in order to keep you outside your comfort zone. This can include something simple as eating out at a restaurant that is unfamiliar, hiking on an unfamiliar trail, traveling to an unfamiliar place or studying something that is challenging.
Lean Into Your Role: An effective way to become less self-conscious is to start thinking about the actions you need to take to transition into your more courageous self. Overtime when you lean into the role that you need to be to help others it’s no longer just about you.
How Courageous Are You?
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Mindfulness is the practice of making a gentle effort to pay attention in a particular way that is open, receptive and non-judgemental to what you’re experiencing at the present moment.
It means to slow down to really notice what you’re doing and being intentionally aware and awake to each moment and be fully engaged in what’s happening.
Mindfulness helps promote physical, emotional and cognitive stability.
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How Do You Practice Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not just about being alert to the present moment, it’s also paying attention very carefully to the environment around you.
The things you need to consider before you start practicing mindfulness:
It Won’t Cost You Anything: It’s not necessary to buy a special cushion to sit on and you can practice mindfulness anywhere. All you need is the time and space to devote towards developing your mindfulness skills.
Don’t Worry About Quieting Your Mind: The goal of mindfulness is not for you to have an outworldly or blissful state of mind; what you’re trying to do is to pay attention to the present moment without judgement.
Your Mind Will Drift Off: Practicing mindfulness involves trying to focus on what you’re thinking at the present moment. However you’ll find that many thoughts arise including those about what you did yesterday and these may make your mind wander. Through mindfulness you become aware of this and consciously bring your focus back to the present moment.
Your Inner Critic Will Try To Take Over: We’re all guilty of listening to our inner critic in our heads more than we should. Our inner critic is in the form of negative thoughts that cause us to judge ourselves and not be aware of it. The practice of mindfulness involves intentionally focusing on a present moment without judgement, so we learn how to look at these thoughts and react to them by making mental notes on them and letting them go.
It’s All About Returning Your Attention Back To The Present Moment: Mindfulness is the practice that uses the sensation of the breath as an anchor to the present moment. Our minds have the tendency to wander into random thoughts, this is why mindfulness is the practice of returning to our breath over and over again when we’re trying to refocus.
Sometimes the terms mindfulness and meditation are used interchangeably, many of us think that they’re the same, they’re not.
Mindfulness involves intentionally focusing on the present moment, while meditation is a mental exercise that involves relaxation, focus and awareness; its practiced individually in a still seated position and with your eyes closed.
The practice of meditation leads to the enriching of mindfulness.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
The practice of mindfulness has many benefits including:
Being Able to Make Better Decisions: The mind has tendencies to wander toward unconscious thoughts such as ruminations, emotions and memories that can trigger feelings and reactions that cloud our judgement. Being mindful is becoming aware of these thoughts and the inner workings of your own mind and making you a better decision maker.
Improves mental health: Mindfulness is a practice that’s an integrative approach that helps people manage thoughts and feelings that cause mental health problems.
Improves Physical Health: Scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques have physical health benefits including stress relief, lowering blood pressure, reduction of chronic pain and relieving gastrointestinal problems.
Increases Attention: Mindfulness along with other treatments can help you develop inner skills that promote your ability to control your attention by strengthening your ability to self observe and develop different relationships to experiences that are stressful.
Helps You Sleep: The world we live in can be stressful; at work we have tight deadlines, along with being anxious about job security. Stress can affect sleep quality and incorporating mindfulness into our daily routine can help us sleep better.
Improves Relationships: Since mindfulness increases the awareness of our thoughts and actions it’s great for improving relationships.
What Makes a Mindful Mastermind?
A mastermind is described as someone who has an outstanding intellect or someone who plans and directs an ingenious and complex enterprise. People from different walks of life can be described as masterminds such as inventors, intellectuals and famous geniuses such as Albert Einstein.
Being intelligent or smart means that you have an easier time processing and understanding information.
Most people think that intelligence and wisdom are one and the same.
Wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge and good judgement.
When a form of practical wisdom such as mindfulness teaches you how to think about and apply what you have learned.
Sometimes we learn things that cause our minds to wander toward negative thoughts that contribute to limiting beliefs and anxiety that we try to control. Mindfulness makes you aware that this is happening, you accept what is happening and lose yourself within your heart space when you’re feeling inner peace after letting go of negative thoughts that don’t serve you.
Love is a set of emotions that stem from feelings of strong or constant affection, protectiveness and respect for another person.
Love can also be used to describe non-human relationships including the love for your pets, love for political freedom or love for whatever higher power you believe in.
Benefits of Love:
Fewer Doctor’s Visits
Natural Pain Control
Lower Blood Pressure
Heal Faster After An Illness
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Falling in Love vs. Loving Someone
When you fall in love, it is a feeling that makes you want to be with someone. The initial spark that causes two people to fall in love is due to numerous factors including physical chemistry, sexual attraction and shared interests that lead to compatibility.
There’s a difference between falling in love and loving someone, but we use the word love to describe both. Falling in love can stem from feelings of infatuation, lust and obsession and after we fall in love feelings develop on the surface after you both start talking, holding hands, hugging and kissing each other.
Symptoms of falling in love include:
Loss of Appetite
Increase in Anxiety
The complex set of feelings that develop when you fall in love may last or they may not. Also, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll love that person forever, but the initial phase is a trigger for taking action.
When you truly love someone it goes beyond those initial feelings of infatuation, lust and obsession that leads to surface feelings. Over time you have a desire to see them grow, you start looking past their flaws and you start to motivate, encourage and inspire one another.
Why Do Some People Fear Falling in Love?
The most interesting thing about love is that it has something in common with fear. Both love and fear are governed by the hormone oxytocin.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is best known as the love hormone. It is secreted by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain when you’re bonding with someone whether you’re initially falling in love, cuddling, making out or hugging. Overtime it can make you feel like going all the way.
It’s interesting that oxytocin also goes to work when something socially stressful or horrible happens to you. When this happens the oxytocin enhances your memory of the event and sometimes the bad memory might be a past relationship that makes you fearful of falling in love again.
Reason why falling in love can be scary include:
Cynicism About Love: Cynicism or being cynical is a belief that people are motivated purely by self-interest and this leads to a general distrust of others. There’s a lot of cynicism about love; it’s part of a defensive posture we take to protect ourselves from being hurt. This can stem from a previous relationship when one partner cheats on the other and betray their trust and the anger and bitterness can make them fearful and cynical about love.
Fear of Being Vulnerable: Fear of vulnerability occurs when you’re afraid to open up emotionally partly due to fear of rejection or abandonment. This fear over time turns into a metaphorical wall that you build around yourself to minimize the risk of being hurt again. Also, a new relationship is uncharted territory and we are naturally fearful of the unknown because of the risk involved.
Unrealistic Expectations: Many fear falling in love again is due to a previous relationship falling apart because of unrealistic expectations. These unrealistic expectations can include one partner becoming fixated on making their partner conform to their idea of perfection and overtime this makes their partner resentful overtime. Some say that romantic comedies create a warped sense of how perfect relationships should be; expectations include love at first sight, real love is proven through grand romantic gestures, you’ll find someone who will complete and worst of all the expectation that every problem will magically disappear as soon as you enter a relationship. Also, these unrealistic expectations sometimes cause us to think that we’re not perfect or good enough to love someone.
Fear of Losing Them: The more someone means to us the more afraid we are of losing that person. This is a normal feeling to have, but it becomes a problem when you become preoccupied with loss and abandonment. When you allow this fear to consume you it will make you fearful toward getting close to someone.
Fear of Losing Yourself: Some see falling in love as a loss of our wholeness and our independence.
TheIssues That Plague Modern Relationships
The way a lot of our generation sees relationships is not how our grandparents viewed them. Instead of describing love as something that you need to nurture like a flower and letting it grow, a lot of our generation describes love as a virus that you don’t want to catch.
We have a bad habit of falling in love too quickly, we start fighting too quickly and worst of all we give up on relationships too quickly.
Instead of taking responsibility for the flaws that make us who we are we force others to accept them and at the same time we expect others to change for us.
Biggest Problems Facing Modern Relationships Include:
Lack of Communication Between Partners: Since the main form of communicating between partners is texting other forms of communication have been cast aside such as talking on the phone and also listening.
Commitment Issues: Commitment issues in relationships are nothing new, but in modern relationships some see long-term commitment as a trap.
Influence of Dating Sites and Social Media: Dating sites and social media have led to FOMO (the fear of missing out). There’s something called the paradox of choice that causes decision paralysis when we’re constantly waiting for someone better to come along.
Constantly Chasing After Excitement: A lot of our generation craves newness or novelty. This is true when we’re looking for love and when we frequently meet someone new it excites us.
Manipulation: Relationships are supposed to be a shared emotion. However there are many one-sided relationships in which the person who could possibly care less about it and they know the other person would do anything to save the relationship. Forms of manipulation include guilt trips, passive-aggression, gas lighting, selectively showing affection and lying.
Everyone is Looking For “The One”: Unrealistic expectations about love cause us to fear inperfection and causes us to wait for “the one”. Many people do find the one, but others wait too long and they end up losing their window of opportunity.
Also, many of us are finding ourselves asking questions including:
“What is the point of getting married?”
“Is there someone better out there?”
“What does this text from my significant other or crush mean?”
“Do I want to be financially tied down to my partner”
“When will my partner grow up and stop playing video games?”
Love is something that was already scary and complicated. As the world grows more scary and complex due to changes in society, the economy and technology it may make people more fearful of love because of the potential consequences associated with modern relationships.
What To Do About Your Fear of Love?
Approach Love With Realistic Expectations: I mentioned above that we have unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. We expect instant gratification, but in reality bonding with someone takes time. We expect relationships to be easy, but they’re really hard. We expect a prince/princess, however it’s realistic to accept that people have flaws.
Get Out of Your Head: The phrase “being in your head” is a general metaphor for overthinking or overanalyzing something. Being in our heads too much leads to obsessive negative thinking that causes depression and anxiety. This negative thinking can cause us to doubt ourselves, and cause us to doubt whether the person who loves us loves us back and start questioning whether we’re worthy of love. The first step toward getting out of heads is reframing our negative thinking mentally reciting a mantra and sticking with it, for example if we’re frequently thinking that “We’re not good enough” can be replaced with “I’m an awesome person”. Also, it helps to keep your mind occupied as much as possible with activities that relax the mind such as hands-on hobbies such as woodworking, writing or cooking.
Seek Out Someone Who Shares the Same Relationship Values: One reason modern relationships are so fragile is confusing love with other feelings such as lust when we first fall in love. Also, modern relationships have lost sight of important factors such as mutual trust, compromise, dedication, patience and sacrifice, along with a factor frequently overlooked shared values. The values I’m referring to are trust, commitment, same lifestyle, same or similar beliefs and a general understanding of the same things.
Change Your Perspective About Your Fear: I mentioned in my previous blog post about fear is a condition about being afraid of something or being worried about a specific outcome. Fear can be a scary thing and hold you back from taking that step you need to take toward something positive. For example, the fear of rejection and the fear of failure can cause someone to become emotionally paralyzed and cause self-doubt. However, fear itself is not necessarily a bad thing it has a positive side. The fear of rejection and the fear of failure can be reframed, so they can teach us how to do better by reconsidering our goals and remind us that we’re human and that we make mistakes.
Public Speaking is the process of communicating information to an audience.
It’s an excellent way to help improve your knowledge, because there’s a lot of preparation that goes into a speech that involves working out how to communicate to others effectively and makes you understand your content better.
There are seven golden rules for public speaking including:
Plan and Practice your talk before write it out in PowerPoint
Open your talk with a hook
Push to the audience to overcome stage fright
Use Natural Visual Communication
Make the Audience Comfortable
If You Make The Mistake of Forgetting Something, Just Move On.
The Audience is The Center Of The Presentation, Not Your Slides.
What are the Benefits of Public Speaking?
The thing that’s very interesting about public speaking is that there are so many benefits to learning a skill that helps you in so many aspects of your life.
Benefits To Public Speaking Include:
Career Advancement: When you develop effective public speaking skills it can lead to career advancement.
Boosts Your Confidence: When you involve yourself in the process of public speaking you boost your confidence. The more you speak in public the more you boost your confidence.
Builds Critical Thinking Skills: Critical thinking occurs whenever people figure out what to believe or what to do, and it is done in a reasonable and reflective way. Critical thinking is essential for being able to communicate effectively in public, because the speech you’re writing requires a great deal of careful thought.
Improved Communication Skills: Public speaking requires you to think about the framework of the speech you’re writing and the persuasive strategy for how to effectively get your message across.
Make New Social Connections: After you give a presentation you’ll find that there are people who engage in conversation with you and new social connections are made.
Build Leadership Skills: When you stand up and speak in front of a crowd and master the skill of persuasion you become effective at changing hearts and minds about something.
What is The Fear of Public Speaking?
The fear of public speaking is known as Glossophobia.
The fear of public speaking is among the most common forms of anxiety. It’s estimated that at least 75% of Americans have some fear of public speaking; whether it stems from feeling self-conscious about your voice or social anxiety. It’s also an interesting fact that world wide public speaking is listed as one of the biggest fears that people face; it’s bigger than the fear of snakes and even than the fear of death.
What are the symptoms of the fear of public speaking?
Increased Blood Pressure
A Stiffening of The Upper Back Muscles
Nausea and Feeling of Panic When Faced With Having To Speak In Public
Intense Anxiety At The Thought Of Speaking In Front Of A Group
What causes the fear of public speaking?
Fear of Appearing Anxious: I mentioned before in my blog post about social anxiety that many people fear being in social situations due to the fear of looking anxious. The fear of appearing anxious in front of an audience contributes to a fear of public speaking.
Concerns That Others Are Judging You: The fear of others judging you is another reason why some people fear public speaking. The audience you’re speaking to doesn’t care about you personally, but they do care about getting something from your presentation or speech, because they’re taking the time to listen to you speak.
Past Failures: Just like other forms of anxiety the fear of public speaking is often learned behavior. In the past you may have failed at public speaking; whether it was due to not being prepared or being preoccupied with being judged by your audience. These were factors that led to planting the seeds of self-doubt that caused your fear.
Poor Preparation: Your audience will not be happy if you waste their time by not being prepared and you’ll feel anxious and fearful when you speak in front of them. When you’re poorly prepared and you feel embarrassed; it’s important to not let the seeds of self-doubt be planted. Public speaking is a lot like learning how to ride a bike when you’re a kid; if you fail to keep your balance while on the bike just keep getting back on it until you’re able to keep your balance.
Narcissism and Body Image Issues: When you care too much about how other people perceive you or if you indulge in extreme self-consciousness about how you look you’re being narcissistic even if you’re preoccupied with the negative things about yourself. Being that obsessed with yourself will make it harder to influence others.
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How Do You Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking?
Tips for overcoming the fear of public speaking include:
Refocus Your Brain Right Before You Speak: Being mindful of your triggers ahead of time will help you overcome your fear of public speaking. I mentioned in a previous post that anxiety can be turned into a superpower by reframing negative thoughts into positive ones. For example if your negative thoughts revolve around your past failures like not being prepared just remind yourself that you’ll learn from this failure and be prepared next time you speak to an audience. Another way to refocus your brain is through meditation; when you pay attention to the physical sensations of your own body this leads to the strengthening of the connections between areas of your brain related to focus and the ones related to stress.
Learn How To Improve Eye Contact: A simple way to enhance your impact as a public speaker and persuade others to see your point of view is eye contact. Eye contact can improve your concentration, establish a connection and facilitates engagement with your audience. Also, eye contact projects authority and confidence toward your audience.
Identify What Your Audience Needs: It’s important to learn about your audience’s needs when you’re preparing to speak about a specific topic. Does your audience need a solution to a specific problem? Are they open to self-improvement? Knowing what your audience needs before you give your speech makes it easier to form a connection with them along with being influential and persuasive. Also, this not only works with public speaking it also with blogging.
Have You Ever Had A Fear of Public Speaking?
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