emotional hijack

5 Ways To Manage CoronaVirus Anxiety

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I think that we can all agree that Covid-19 has shattered our perception of safety and stability. Being confined in a quarantine and being encouraged to practice social distancing has contributed to a shift in our day to day habits and has encouraged new fears to arise as a result. 

Some of us are worried about paying the bills or keeping our businesses alive, some of us are struck with fear of the possibility of death or of losing a loved one to the virus and still some of us feel isolated and don’t know what to do with the time given to us (contributing to our unsteadiness). No matter what age we are, we are all on some level impacted by this event. 

The feeling of anxiety, therefore, is normal and expected.

Anxiety is a natural response to the event of the unknown. It’s designed to let us know that we should prepare ourselves for an upcoming event that can potentially hurt us or cause us harm. Experiencing a manageable dosage of anxiety can be helpful in taking precautionary actions however TOO MUCH anxiety can have an adverse effect. 

Here are five ways that we can keep our anxiety at bay during the CoronaVirus.

  1. Practice Breath-Work

    Breath-work in a general term is a type of therapy that utilizes breathing exercises to improve mental, physical and spiritual health. When we are caught in a state of anxiety or panic our limbic system (our survival brain) hijacks our ability to make rational decisions. It generates exaggerated worst-case scenarios, reduces our ability to empathize with others, and makes us fall into a trap of overgeneralization. In all, we make very irrational conclusions about what is and is not safe for us. To jump out of this hijack, we can use the mindfulness exercise of focused breathing to place our attention on what is actually real versus being caught up in an emotion.

  2. Limit Your Media Intake

    Stay informed but don’t overdo it. Taking precautions of the CoronaVirus and understanding government and health guidelines is important but limit your intake of it. You don’t NEED TO HAVE the TV on at all costs, you don’t NEED TO know about each new case and it’s severity!!! Know how you can prevent it and that’s really all you need to know.

    List to Prevent CoronaVirus
    -wash hands properly for 20 seconds with soap or hand sanitizer
    -avoid touching your face, mouth or nose
    -disinfect phones or exposed counters or items
    -avoid public places (ideally STAY HOME; LIMIT your trips to the grocery store)
    -keep 6 feet apart when in public

  3. Keep Yourself Busy!!!

    Anxiety manifests when we feed it. With so much FREE TIME on our hands our minds cannot help but wander into the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘who knows’. It’ll have you repeating the worst case scenarios like your life depended on it. During quarantine take some time to practice self care and to learn a new skill that could benefit you in the long run. Look into cooking a healthy meal, try out yoga, read a book, improve your ability to manage your emotions by taking our EQ for Beginners Course. GET BUSY, get CREATIVE, GLOW UP BY GROWING! Now is the time to do so.

  4. Keep In Social Contact

    During social distancing, keeping social contact is important. It can be a lonely time for many of us. FaceTime a friend, your romantic partner (if you don’t live together) or a family member. Catch up.

    Humans aren’t meant to be isolated – we need connection. Just make sure that that connection enhances your well-being; toxic encounters shouldn’t be welcomed.

  5. Have a Plan

    It’s hard to predict what the days ahead of us look like, but preparing for self-isolation is advisable. Make sure to have up to 2 weeks of supplies in case quarantining oneself is necessary. This includes food, household products, prescription medications, over the counter medications and supplements. Don’t forget about your mental health; if your self care routine includes art, exercise or yoga make sure you have the supplies or equipment needed. 

As of the moment, Covid-19 is here to stay. We need to take precautions and take it one day at a time. Control only what we can control and make the best of the situation.

Comment down below how you manage your anxiety amidst the CoronaVirus outbreak…

The Self-Improvement Trap

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When you last picked up a self-help book or took the initiative to participate in a personal development course, what motivated you to do so?

Was your motive something along the lines of…

  1. I need to fix my negative thoughts because their messing up my life
  2. I need to get rid of my insecurities because they have ruined so many opportunities
  3. I need to become more present because if I don’t I’ll be forever anxious 

Or did they embody something along the lines of this…

  1. I would like to establish a more positive outlook on life so that when I’m in a conflicting situation I can make more proactive decisions
  2. I would like to respond to myself with kindness when my insecurities arise and reduce the self-critical effect
  3. I would like to become more present so that I can enjoy my family and friends

So, which one was it?

Isn’t it interesting to see how similar yet different these motives are? There is a fine line between self-improvement and self-degradation. In the first category, there is a great emphasis on trying to ‘fix you’ as a person. The motives are laced with a negative undertone and a disease like quality. It’s like once I become emotionally stable, then I’ll be lovable. Once I tackle my anxiety, then I’ll be able to live. It’s the never ending pursuit of once I have this, then I’ll be good.

Many of us take this self-improvement approach. We have this belief that we need to eliminate the bad, before we can see the good in a situation or in ourselves.

What’s The Problem With This Thinking?

The problem is that we become trapped into trying to fix the old rather than build the new. When we create goals around ‘fixing ourselves’ we carry around a heavy weight of powerlessness, shame, not enoughness and struggle; which makes growing and improving so much harder (and failing even more so). Because of this strong negative undertone, we place more focus on protecting ourselves than growing.

Give Yourself Some SLACK!

If what I described above sounds like you, it’s not your fault and your 1000% normal. Emotions are real. Psychological issues are real. Triggers are real. Habits are real. The struggle is real and you’re not alone.

From an evolutionary perspective, this way of thinking and behaving helped us stay alive. Your anxiety helped prevent unwanted outcomes like rejection, failure and ultimately death. Your depression helped prevent the emotional overwhelm and everything in between helped manage something to keep you in the here and now. If you think about it, the blame is quite ambiguous because who you are right now is merely a compilation of the people you were around, the culture you’ve been exposed to and life circumstances you’ve experienced.

The important question comes down to… is there a way out and is there a way to use growth that is healthy and uplifting? Yes. 

That starts with the practice of self-acceptance. That means being okay with where you are at the moment and understanding that you are exactly where you need to be right now.

In our new course ‘Emotional Intelligence for Beginners’ we cover and provide tools on how to develop self-compassion so that you deal with difficult emotions when they arise and make choices and decisions that are based on growth rather than insecurity.

Primary Versus Secondary Emotions

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You may have heard about (or have first hand experienced) emotions in various intensities. 

Say you’re experiencing the emotion of anger. That anger can look differently in different settings and circumstances. When a cashier takes an incredibly long time to scam your items you may feel a mild version of anger like irritation (because you have places to go and things to do). In another instant, say you discovered your significant other cheating on you with one of your closest friends you may experience a strong emotion of anger like rage. 

But did you know that emotions come in different levels with different motives and different trigger points? In this blog we’ll be discussing primary and secondary emotions and how they influence our day to day lives. 

Primary emotions are our first initial reaction. Let’s say that a friend of yours cancelled going to a party with you at the last minute, what would your first reaction be? You may feel hurt, sad, lonely or confused. Primary emotions are the vulnerable emotions that we feel; they center around what our child-self would experience. Secondary emotions, on the other hand, are the emotions that are much more defensive in nature. Emotions like anger, envy and jealousy are a few examples of it. In this case, you may feel anger towards the friend because you were looking forward to going to the event and don’t feel like your time is respected.

Unfortunately, unlike the elaboration above, a great deal of the time we are unaware of our primary emotions and are only consciously aware of our secondary emotions; the anger that covers up feelings of hurt, the embarrassment overpowering our sadness, or the anxiety masking a much deeper fear.

Our secondary emotions, therefore, are in response to our resistance of feeling our vulnerable emotions. This is a protective mechanism designed to keep us free from pain (because pain is uncomfortable). If you’ve ever responded in the heat of a secondary emotion, like anger, you may have ended up with maladaptive outcomes. However, despite that it’s important to not rule out these feelings because their role is to let us know when something isn’t right. An easy way to spot a secondary emotion, like anger,  is by noticing if it’s action oriented. These emotions make us want to get into fist fights, destroy property or create a desire to ruin a person’s reputation. If you also feel driven to act without any sense of relief that too is a great indicator of a secondary emotion.

Luckily, before we take any action desired by our secondary emotions we can develop a habit of slowing down our impulses by noticing our primary emotions and unmet needs. These emotions can include feeling hurt, unwanted, or ashamed and can showcase in the body as a vulnerable feeling washing over you.

Through this identification process of our feelings and unmet needs we enable ourselves to practice good emotional habits by communicating our needs to others and learning how to meet them ourselves.

Where Do Primary Emotions Come From?

Primary emotions can either stem from a present moment or from the past. In psychology this is known as adaptive and maladaptive emotions. 

Maladaptive emotions can be sparked in the present moment but are tied to the way we felt earlier in life. For instance, a girl that grew up in an environment where everyone told her she’s incapable will feel triggered by someone saying, “You can’t do it.” These feelings evoke a lot of shame but before the vulnerable emotion can be recognized she will be swept away with feelings of resentment, anger, and defensiveness. As a result, she begins to participate in self defeating behaviours such as holding herself back and pushing away loved ones. 

Adaptive emotions, on the other hand, are closely tied to the present moment. For instance, a black man that is racially profiled may feel saddened and hurt for not being given the same opportunities as his fellow white counterparts. He too may be swept away with anger for the unfair treatment. 

Luckily, with conscious awareness over our emotional states we can respond to our life situations more strategically and emphatically.