‘The virus of fear - manage it mindfully’ - Gerry Raftery

‘The virus of fear - manage it mindfully’ - Gerry Raftery

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In the face of Covid-19 we have two options, fight or flight - mindfullness expert. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has reminded us that we face a second virus at this time, the virus of fear.

We have all had a touch of it over the past few weeks. Many may have become quite overwhelmed and even paralysed by fear in the face of the coronavirus.

Fear is associated with the stress we are enduring at the moment. It is a very uncomfortable feeling and it stretches through anxiety, panic and even terror. However, a lot of irrational and unfounded fear can make a bad situation much worse.

Fear is Real

Fear is a very real emotion. An important part of our emotional intelligence is our awareness of fear, our ability to recognise the fear, accept it, feel it and try to manage it. If we don’t learn to manage the fear, the fear will manage us and could do us great damage mentally and physically.

As with every stressful or frightening situation we have two options: fight or flight.

In the face of Covid–19 we have to choose between fight or flight.

Flight

Flight is the option most of us are presented with as we are asked to leave work, school, college, give up our social lives, reduce contact with others and enter social isolation. We can view this as a healthy and positive choice. Flight can give us a feeling of safety and help us to manage our fears.

Fight

The other option, fight, will come into play when and if we get the virus or if somebody in our family circle gets it. It is then that we will draw on our physical and emotional resources to fight the illness with the resilience we have used often in the past. Though it may not be easy, we can win the fight.

As the late John O’Donoghue wrote in Benedictus, May memory bless and protect you with the hard-earned light of past travail; To remind you that you have survived before And though the darkness now is deep, You will soon see approaching light.

Manage Fear Mindfully

Mindfulness can teach us ways to manage fear.

A key learning is to live in the here and now, take life one day at a time.

As the Gospel says, “Each day has enough troubles of its own.”

So why worry about tomorrow or about something which may never happen. Living in the present moment dissolves all of the “what ifs and what might” fears. These fears can overwhelm us and weaken our ability to handle what is happening now. Take life one day at a time instead of imagining the terrible things which might happen in the future. They may never happen.

You Can control Your Mind

Instead of allowing your mind to stay focused on the frightening reality in which you find yourself, you can bring your mind elsewhere.

While working in the garden I found my eyes drawn to some beautiful primroses. The flowers and the garden calmed my fears. For each one of us there are positive and healthy things which we can do to bring calm and peace to our minds. You could listen to music which relaxes or inspires you, go for a walk, read a book, play a game, cook a nice meal, there are so many simple things which we can do. These bring us into the realm of living and savouring the full life that is there for us now.

Gerry Raftery teaches mindfulness and meditation