By Gail Allen
How are you doing with the Self Isolation and Social Distancing? Lately we've been discussing many of the ways I see people – and myself - responding. Most of have never lived through a Global Pandemic Health Crisis before, so our brains are still trying to figure this out. In our Central Nervous System, we have 2 different paths: We can turn on our Parasympathetic Nervous System or our Sympathetic Nervous System. Let's dive into them a bit and see how they relate to our responses to the pandemic.
Our Parasympathetic Nervous System is where humans are designed to spend 90% of our time. This is where we rest, digest, process, heal, and learn.
Our Sympathetic Nervous System, on the other hand, is our Survival Mode mechanism. This SHOULD be where we spend about 10% of our time (although I think as Americans, we often have it backwards!) and where we land when it feels like we’re fighting for our existence. This is where I say, the 5 Fs live: Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fix, and Fawn.
Now, as I said, most of us have never lived through anything like the Corona Virus. HOWEVER, many, many, many of us have lived through trauma and our bodies and brains remember how we responded to and lived through those traumatic events, and so may cycle through those 5 Fs and keep settling back to one in particular that tends to work the best for us… because our- all of us- goal is to survive!
Here are some observations I’ve made about how people are using each of the 5 Fs to respond to the COVID. Which one/s resonates for you? Do you see these responses in others?
Fight: Defensiveness, anger, blaming others. A lot of trauma response comes here from feeling like we are under attack or imminent danger. If you notice yourself constantly being on the defense, ready to bite people’s heads off, feeling constantly wronged, yelling at the TV or Social Media, you may be here.
Flight: Feeling lots of anxiety, trying to stay constantly busy, making lists of “shoulds” or telling yourself or others how to spend their time, but being unsure of how you spent your time OR needing to check off or prove all the things that you’ve accomplished. The word “motivation” seems to be showing up a lot here. Also, people who seem to thrive in drama or get adrenaline rushes from helping others. A lot of people who seem to be on top of their game in a crisis live here because it allows them to run from their own feelings and potential healing. I also notice a lot of people who tend to operate here pushing the envelope. Not exactly going "out" but not staying home either ... and an almost giddiness that they haven't gotten "caught" (ie sick) yet. Having a disregard for the potential consequences or not wanting to believe that it could ever happen to them.
Freeze: Sleeping, eating, denial (“it’s not that bad”), compartmentalizing feelings and emotions to deal with them later, instead of experiencing them now. A lot of people who survived childhood trauma fall back on this as their go-to survival mechanism.
Fix: Hoarding necessities, obsessively watching the news, really being stuck in “Should-land.” Feeling like if you prepare and learn enough, you can get through this relatively unscathed.
Fawn: “Mothering” others, crying, being obsessively worried about things or others outside of your control, or that really have no bearing or are irrelevant to the situation, particularly if it helps to avoid thinking about the situation... ie: I only have a month to reorganize and paint my whole house!
None of these are bad. None of them are wrong. Please treat yourself and others kindly when you see yourself there! But if you’re ready to move on from this into Healing Mode, please let me know! Our 7 week Chakra Healing Journey course is a perfect opportunity to dive into an exploration of your response to crises. I also offer one-on-one Chakra Healing Counseling Services virtually; please don't hesitate to reach out to me to learn more and schedule a complimentary session! Gail@audaciouswellnessacademy.com
Gail Allen and Danielle Schwartz are both 500-RYT yoga professionals trained in Hatha and Kundalini Yoga. They specialize in Chakra Healing, Curvy Yoga, 8 Limbs of Recovery (yoga for recovering addicts), Reiki Healing, Aromatherapy, and other modalities of healing.