Is It Time To Panic?

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Is it time to panic
Is it time to panic? NO, no… and no!  Wait, is that correct? Yes, it’s correct? Oh yeah, it is.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a neuroscientist or an expert on infectious disease. I have explained things below in a way I think the masses can understand so if you are a scientist please don’t yell at me. I am a cognitive behavioral therapist and a mom.

NO, it is not time to panic.

Ok so I know that was a major spoiler alert but here is the bottom line, PSA, sage advice, words of wisdom, whole Megila… It. Is. Never. Time. To. Panic!

Ok, I wasn’t yelling, just making sure I have everyone’s attention for this important topic I am very passionate about.

This is not a post specifically about COVID-19 I will not be referencing articles or statistics. Rather, it is a post about how we can stay calm during COVID-19. Also since this is a Moms collective, let’s also talk about how staying calm will help our children.

So here is the thing is this virus and current world climate a big deal? Yes, yes it is. I’m pretty sure we will be talking about 2020 as a memorable year in history for a long time to come. We want to try and be informed and we want to be diligent and cautiously optimistic while staying calm.

I hear you all collectively shouting, “that’s easier said than done Melissa” at your personal devices as you read so I’m going to put my therapist hat on for a minute and talk to you about how powerful your thoughts are.

See our thoughts create our feelings we feel anxious after thinking an anxious thought and we feel happy after we think a happy thought.

*side note, with that in mind I highly recommend setting a timer to remind you to think about one happy thing and something you love about your kids every hour or even 30 minutes during this time of school closures. It will help your patience level*

Our brain is the most complex and hard-working organ in our body it likes routine, systems, and repetitiveness. This is why when you start thinking negatively it snowballs. But here is where it gets easier. If you start thinking positively that can snowball too!

Here is the thing, many emotions are “contagious”. Do you know why? Because we see someone having an emotion and think oh I should feel that way too. If I think “Sara is panicking I guess I should be too” guess what I’m going to start to feel? Panicked!

My best friend lives in another state (and prompted the title for this post). She kept asking me last week when discussing what she was seeing around her at the stores, and on social media “should I be panicking now?” and I realized what she really meant is “should I be feeling differently than I am?”

The answer to should I panic or feel anxious is always going to be NO.

It never helps.

Panic is “contagious” it doesn’t give you any control it actually can take it away.

If there is a fire you can trigger your brain’s fight or flight and get all the adrenaline you need without actually panicking.

So BREATHE. Do it often, long, and with mindfulness. Quiet your mind. Think calming thoughts. Be in the moment. Do not jump on the panic train that so many are on.

Do you want to know why people are buying toilet paper? For some, it is subconscious and just because others are. The psychological theory is that it is to ease the anxiety that comes from feeling out of control.

When the future is unknown we feel out of control. Toilet paper is something normally easily accessible, used daily, reasonably priced, often bought in bulk, and doesn’t go bad. It is the perfect product to ease anxiety and help people feel safe. Therefore, TP has become the symbol of COVID-19 panic in America. In China it was masks. In Italy something else I’m guessing.

Try exercises often throughout the day to be present in the moment. Our anxiety is often about the “what if” of the future. The current moment is usually pretty neutral.

Try it right now. Are you in any imminent danger this very moment? Are you comfortable where you sit? How’s the temperature? It’s a pretty ok moment right?

You can easily do grounding exercises with your kids as well. Counted breathes, creating complicated tapping of different body parts like patting your head while rubbing your stomach or secret handshakes.

My favorite as an adult is the five senses. I name out loud five things I see, then four things I touch, three things I hear, two things I smell, and one I taste. and voila! By the end my brain is quiet and I’m calm and present. My kids are pretty little so I also keep balloons around or use pretend ones and we have a contest to see who can blow the biggest balloon with one big slow breathe (spoiler, I let them win sometimes.)

We don’t know what the weeks to come will bring. The best thing we can do for ourselves and our families is to take care of our mental health so we are better prepared to take care of our physical health. Try and think of the positives that are possibly coming from this.

I’ll start you off with my three for today:

  1. More time with my kids and I can sleep a few minutes later with fewer drop-offs.
  2. More preparedness for future emergencies and better hygiene by all which may have a positive long term effect on the community.
  3. More togetherness. Even with social distancing, I have seen the community come together more than ever.

There is no need to panic. Stay healthy and stay calm. Sending you all virtual hugs and elbow bumps.

 

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I grew up in Orange County then went to Los Angeles (with a short detour in Santa Barbara) for college and spent the next 12 years there thinking that was home until I met my amazing, now husband on Jdate.com and moved back here to start our life together. I have a young son and daughter that are two years apart. They are thick as thieves and keep us laughing. I worked in Hospice care for 15 years and now I take Working Mom to a whole new dimension with a private mental health practice www.melissafishergoldman.com. I worked hard with many jobs hustling for many years to grow my own business. I'm proud to say I'm helping people in my own office full time. The decision to quit my full time job working for some one else and to work towards creating much needed grief, trauma and self esteem support in Orange County fills my soul. I may not spend 24/7 with my kids but I plan to be role model to them and the time we have is all about quality not quantity. I'm working on a life/work balance but I find this is much easier when I love all aspects of my life and work and self.