May 18 – Coping with Threat

Written by Karyn Hall

May 18, 2020

When we feel threatened, our sympathetic nervous system turns on and we are in flight or fight mode.  It’s a normal response which helps us survive. Years and years and years ago, when the threat was a saber-tooth tiger, this response served us well. We could act quickly without thinking in order to save ourselves.

Today the threat is COVID-19. There is a real threat and being alert to a certain extent is necessary. At the same time, it’s helpful to act from Wise Mind, not emotion mind.

You may be feeling fear and a sense of threat each day. You can experience the urge for flight in different ways. When you are afraid, the action urge is to get away and get out of the situation. Maybe you retreat to your home, doing very little other than sitting in fear. You may react by stockpiling so much toilet paper, hand sanitizer and food that you have much more than you need.

If you have a fight response, you may find that you are rolling your eyes or dismissing the news reports and recommendations. Maybe you are more irritable with family members, quick to snap and irritate others.

Both responses are understandable and likely to be biologically based. This means that a primary way to cope is by relaxing your body. The body then sends a message to the brain to lower the threat response and this can help you access your wise mind and reduce your threat response.

1.  Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Body scan
2.  Paced breathing with Dr. Marsha Linehan
3.  The 10 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course, free
4.  Progressive Muscle Relaxation

These techniques are ones that you repeat over and over.

Live a skill-full life! By Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 18, 2020


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