Calam-o-nomics in the time of Corona

It’s not an easy time to live in.The unimaginable humanitarian crisis has made the most calm among us paranoid. But there’s some good news.
You can quarantine yourself from everyday anxiety. Here’s how to go about it...


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We are living in a panic-stricken world. Only the degree differs. With the novel coronavirus becoming a pandemic with little signs of abetting, even the most calm among us are living with daily anxiety. What better time can we have than now — with most of us working from home or under self-quarantine — to introspect about our daily lives ridden with anxiety? Come to think of it, our current health paranoia apart — we have been living with constant worry on a day-to-day basis for a while now.

Long-standing research has shown that chronic TV watching and following news have in general elevated our fears over the years. Everything we see starts to feel real – like it’s happening right outside our front door. From a corona virus tweet to economic uncertainty, riots to stress-inducing headlines, daily commuting hassles to work pressure… everyone’s at the verge of losing their minds on a daily basis.

Michigan State University psychology professor Jason Moser believes everyone needs to learn calmonomics (or the science of being calm) in our times. While self-isolating at home for the pandemic, maybe we should start introspecting about quarantining ourselves from worry for the longer run.

YOU CONTROL YOUR MIND

Psychotherapist and life coach Dr Saloni Singh tells us how to go about it. “Choose a conscious response to external panics. Limit the use of social media. Use it judiciously. Do things to enable feelings of well-being. Maybe just sit and enjoy one cup of tea before the next feeling overwhelms you,” she says. In the end, our perspective is the most powerful thing we can control in a situation that’s beyond our control.

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TALK TO YOURSELF

Several experts have several ideas. Now that we’re mostly home, we can give them all a shot and see which one suits us. For instance, Moser suggests people talk to themselves! “Third-person self-talk” can be used across board to calm our nerves” when you are anticipating a stressful event. Psychologist Jeffrey Nevid, PhD, proposes a simple experiment: Spend 60 seconds keeping your mind completely blank when you are super-stressed. While moksha is long way off, we can learn to still our minds. Because as someone said: our mindset is the only barrier between us and a possible breakdown.

According to Psychology Today, some people stay calm relatively easily while others get hyper quite fast. And to stay calm, people have different preferences – exercise, drugs, shopping, meditation, prayer, conversation – the solutions vary from people to people.

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A BRAIN DUMP!

Life coach Ravneet Gandhok believes what really works is expressive writing. “Get the negative thoughts out of your head – journaling is basically giving yourself a ‘brain dump’,” she explains.

Dr Ramon Llamba, doctorate in metaphysics and human psychology, says, “Everything in the universe has energy, and everything in the universe is vibrating at different frequencies. Keeping a high-frequency environment inside our body — mentally, emotionally and physically — help us face the onslaught of bad news with relatively calm demeanor.”

How does one keep a high frequency environment inside our body? Practise this: do not plug yourself into fear. Easier said than done, you may say. But once you are conscious of the fact that you won’t let fear in, you’ll remember to tell yourself not to give in when you feel frightened. Lamba also asks us to keep our thoughts positive by arming ourselves with information from authentic sources. “It’s important to keep your emotional state happy and ‘high-vibrating’. Science has proven that when we are in a highvibrational state, our brain releases some chemicals that help us build our immunity,” she says.

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HUM YOURSELF TO GOOD HEALTH

Another quick way to calm down at extreme stressful times is deep breathing. Self affirmations also help. Keep telling yourself… I am Safe, I am Healthy, my body immunity is high.

Adds Dr Llamba, “When the storm outside cannot be controlled, all you can do is strengthen your home so that the storm doesn’t cause any damage. Humming is one of the ways in which your brain produces a lot of nitric oxides, primarily called the laughing gas.” Look at Italy and Spain. They are all singing out of their balconies to keep themselves happy while entertaining others.
Psychologist Stephen Kull had once said that human beings’ instinct to survive is STRONG, but the instinct to alleviate anxiety is even stronger.

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RECOGNISE YOUR FEARS

The first step to alleviate anxiety is to recognise the specific things that disturb our sense of peace and calm. Business coach Peri Pakroo says, “For many people, worries about money create stress, for others, it’s a conflict with spouse, friend or colleague. For still others, worries over health can quickly spin out of control. Whatever your triggers are, it’s incredibly important to recognise them.”

This may seem strange but Pakroo says it’s essential for some time to allow these dark feelings to run in our heads as it aids us to learn about our triggers, and eventually figure out how not to get stuck with it. “Sitting mindfully with negative feelings can really lessen their strength,” she says.


JUST SWEAT IT OUT!

Regular exercise is widely recognized as a powerful positive influence on mood and emotions. Adds Pakroo, “Also remember that other people’s energies have a significant impact upon us, both positive and negative. If you are going through an anxious phase, try not to spend time around people who bring out your anxiety. Be honest with yourself about how others make you feel. Make it a point to spend time with people who make you feel loved and safe.”

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ENERGY GROWS WHERE FOCUS GOES

At the end of the day, the conversation we have the most is with ourselves – in our own head. So, it’s time to change our personal narratives. It’s time to promote internal well-being by initiating action, no matter how small or large.

This time feels frightening, in part, because of our sense of powerlessness. Says Dr Peyush Bhata, life coach, “Understand that energy grows where focus goes. Shift your focus from negatives in your life to what’s positive. Stop thinking about ‘what if’ narratives. Bring your attention back to this moment.”

Calming down IS hard work. But DONE it must be. The best HAZMAT SUIT in this Age of Paranoia is HOW WE CHOOSE TO TREAT OURSELVES.

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don't PANIC!

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Self-Care: This is the time for utmost healing of mind. You’ll be surprised how frequently even the most dramatically apocalyptic thoughts and feelings turn out to be a result of insufficient food or sleep.

Limit your exposure to social media: American Psychological Association advises people: “If the 24-hour news cycle is causing you stress, limit your media consumption”. Tune out to Tune in.

Reframe your experiences, rather than viewing negative input as a bad thing. Switch your focus from ‘they are edgy, it makes me nervous’ to ‘I can handle it.

Accept, don’t resist: A great deal of stress rises from trying to resist things. It is worth remembering that “anxiety and similar feelings are fairly appropriate reactions, normal responses, to completely abnormal things going on.”


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