COVID-19. Quarantine. Job Losses. Home Schooling. Wildfires. Hurricanes. Recession. Protests. Violence.
Every day, it seems we have more to worry about. How can we survive the mounting impact on our mental health?
Don’t fret. We can learn to manage our minds and get some relief against worry and fear.
History: The Great Teacher
Let’s look at the past. The circumstances we have today are not unique, and humanity has survived much worse.
The truth is, terrible things always happen. It’s part of being alive.
Ask any wild animal. Daily, the threat of being eaten looms. Do they sit around waiting to die? Nope. They go on living, taking precautions along the way.
Understanding the Brain
The human brain exists to survive, striving to avoid danger, find pleasure, and be efficient.
What happens in a crisis? Our brains automatically say: DANGER, DANGER! Stay in the cave, don’t go out!
Faced with any situation, the brain first signals fear, telling us to stay in the cave, eat ice cream, and watch Netflix.
It doesn’t tell us to take action because taking action is often risky.
Our Human Lives
Our brains tell us we must stay safe at all costs if we want to survive.
But life should be more than survival.
To live the full human experience, we must accept reality. Life consists of good and evil, comedy and tragedy, and laughter and tears. Life is not a matter of choosing the good over the bad. The bad still exists, whether we ignore it or not.
If we want to live a full human life, we must live ALL of it, accepting that:
• Murder, destruction, illness, and death happen. Always.
• Birth, creation, health, and human kindness happen. Always.
We keep having children, though we know they can die at any moment, as can we. But we go on, regardless, knowing life is both dangerous and magical.
Accepting life’s contradictions gives us the gift of growth.
Managing Emotional Stress
Change is the only constant in the world.
So, now what?
What matters is how we deal with the reality we have in front of us at any given time. If we want to live the full human experience in a complicated world, we have two choices.
1. Hide in the cave, crying, complaining, and being fearful and worried.
2. Decide what we can do to improve our lives and those of others.
We already know how to live with the uncertainty of death. We don’t think about it all the time. If we did, we would be immobilized.
So what if we stopped thinking about all of our current circumstances all the time?
Instead, what if we started thinking about how we can improve our lives right now? What if we stopped imagining what could go wrong?
Try it. You’ll find there’s no room for stress or worry.
When we have cloudy and worried minds, we lose our power to make decisions. Keeping our minds free of worry opens them up to search for possibilities.
We can use our brains to explore how we can contribute, help, connect with others, and build a new future.
Don’t Worry. Be Powerful.