An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.

Viktor Frankl

Many seem to be tapping into the collective dread, anger and grief trapped in the energetic field whirling overhead.

Constantly consuming news about the pandemic is an easy way to tap into this collective dread and anger. So, no you are not going mad! Mood lability (constant changes in mood) during a crisis is normal. Here is why you might be experiencing these shifts:

1. Currently our limbic systems are in overdrive and are releasing a cocktail of hormones flooding the brain and nervous system.

2. Because this pandemic- a global crisis is not registered in our memory and is a brand new crisis of our lifetime, we don’t know how to cope.

3. Our survival brain doesn’t know whether to pick fight, flight or freeze. So it often cycles through them all to see what works and hence a range of moods are experienced.

4. Fight can be seen as anger and adrenaline rush with excess energy.

5. Flight can be experienced as fear, over thinking and worst case scenario construction or over excitement and panic (if you have experienced tremors, breathlessness and heart palpitations without a history of anxiety disorders).

6. Freeze is sadness, loss of energy or motivation to do anything, hopelessness at the state of the world and or emotional numbness/ambivalence.

7. Each time we gather new information (thanks to WhatsApp and constant news scanning) our limbic system again starts perceiving that we are in danger and goes through the cycle of fight, flight or freeze.

8. It’s like a broken compass unable to find true north.

9. As you begin to realise that you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to ask,

”Is this my dread and anxiety, or collective?”
“Is there a difference?”
“Can I take a minute to centre myself knowing that a centred nervous system radiates outwardly to calm others?”
“If the anger, grief and anxiety are mine can I sit with it? Acknowledge it. Reach out to another human or animal or plant with a calmer nervous system than my own to regulate myself?”

10. To reset your nervous system practice deep breathing, mindfulness, dancing, dynamic movement and music, doodle or make art and gardening. Find someone who is more regulated than you are and talk to them or if you have access to a pet or a garden use that to calm yourself.

11. Reduce the consumption of media and news. Restrict to once a day or less.

12. Seek professional support or create an online community of like minded people.

13. Once you reset your nervous system you will radiate this to others and help co-regulate their moods too.

Idea developed on basis of a twitter thread reply by Chris (@h2odancer74)

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