Day 7: Don't Believe Everything You Think

Updated: May 1, 2020

Tip #7:

Don't believe everything you think.

You've got a great brain, I don't doubt it, but it can come up with all kinds of stories based on a single grain of information (or, more likely, rumor). Anxiety also hijacks the brain, most specifically, the amygdala. When we're stressed out, the amygdala calls the shots. It tells our muscles to power up, our senses to go on hyper alert, and our thoughts to become singularly focused on safety. It's what we commonly know as the Stress Response or the Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response.

While coronavirus is a real thing, all of your thoughts about it are not factual things themselves. A lot of them are feelings getting expressed as thoughts, which are then experienced as truths, and then acted on as facts. Here's a sad example: early on with the coronavirus, some people in China were concerned about contagion. Understandably anxious, they became frantic for ways to avoid infection. They took the instructions regarding sanitizing a step too far and ingested bleach with the belief it would kill the virus. Suffice to say, they needed a way to slow themselves down in the face of some very real fears and some very dangerous thoughts.

You'll know when your (or your child's) amygdala has hijacked your brain because your heart rate has sped up, your muscles are tense, you might feel a headache or bellyache, you're more sensitive to sound/light/smells, and/or you can't think of anything else but the threat of coronavirus. Here's how to take back the controls:

  1. Ground yourself. Focus on your inhale and exhale for 5 breaths. Feel the floor under your feet, the chair under your thighs, the hands in our lap.

  2. Countdown from five: Find 5 things you can see immediately and name them out loud or to yourself. Then find 4 things you can hear right now. Then 3 things you can feel. 2 things you can smell. And lastly, 1 thing you can taste.

I'm not suggesting that these steps will erase your fears but I am suggesting that these steps can get all the parts of your brain working together so that you can utilize the problem-solving aspects of your brilliant mind.

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