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How to calm your emotions during this pandemic

Workplace Wellbeing Trainer, Jo Flack explains how you can calm your emotions during this current pandemic.

This is a time of high emotions, and probably a lot of conflicting emotions too. High emotional arousal can make it harder to keep ourselves both mentally and physically well. When in the grip of strong emotions it is harder to think clearly and use the rational mind that we have been given. However, our emotions are an innate resource that help us meet our needs.

Emotions are a guide to how we are feeling; if I feel bored, my mind is telling me to seek out something stimulating to do; if I feel lonely, I need to try to meet my need for community;  if I am sad, I need to seek out someone or something to make me feel happier. Emotions are also a guide to how others are feeling, so that if I burst into tears I would hope someone around me would seek to give me the comfort I need.

Emotions, then, are a resource that can help gauge our feelings and motivate us to meet our needs in balance. Our emotional brain, however, does not solely influence how we feel but also how we think.

Our emotional brain developed millions of years earlier than our higher thinking brain (the neocortex for those who like to know the scientific term) and our higher thinking brain grew up from the emotional brain. The two are joined by multiple connections that give the emotional brain significant influence on our thoughts. When we become emotionally aroused, our higher thinking brain is forced into the back seat. With the emotional brain in the driving seat, we resort to a more basic form of black and white thinking and we are cut off from more nuanced rational thinking.

So how can we help ourselves to keep a healthy mind, in which the emotional and higher thinking brains are working together to keep us well? The key is to do what we can to lower emotional arousal and calm down the emotional brain.

Top tips:

  • Practice breathing techniques, such as 7-11 breathing, that produce a physical response to calm you and relieve feelings of anxiety.
  • Find relaxation methods that work for you, whether that is taking a long bath, doing some yoga, practising meditation, mindful colouring.
  • Maybe even write a list of things you like to do to improve your mood and pop it on the fridge to refer to when you need it.
  • Make sure you meet your need for privacy. Find some time for yourself because selfcare is not selfish but a core emotional need.
  • When it comes to accessing news and information, avoid exposure to media sites that may ramp up worry.
  • And finally take care of your physical needs for movement, sleep and a balanced approach to food and drink.

Author: Kristina Brinkley

Posted on: 30th April 2020

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