Anxiety is Contagious. So is Calm.

Uncategorized Apr 18, 2020

This week I realized finish lines just can't exist right now. Remote learning will extend through the end of the school year, which means I’m a first and third grade teacher for another six weeks - on top of my existing work/life/mental/emotional load. If I’m being honest, it would be more disruptive to send everyone back to school at this point but the anxiety and overwhelm felt REAL. Expectations and finish lines aren’t reliable as reality shifts daily. This is hard. But this is when we need to surf the waves these turbulent times bring - we can’t control them. Let go of expectations, things aren’t supposed to look a certain way right now. I realize how much I gain by giving myself permission to let go. One day at a time.

We’ve talked with at least five clients this week who’ve experienced their first bout of true anxiety -  a handful have even experienced anxiety attacks. On any given ‘normal’ day, one in three women suffers from anxiety. One in three. And as we all navigate our way into a ‘new normal’ general feelings of anxiety are running rampant. 

And it’s contagious, this feeling. 

Emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, panic) are contagious because of smart cells in our brains called mirror neurons. When we see someone being anxious, our mirror neurons fire and allow us to experience the same anxiety (and feel empathy). We don’t need to “think” about the other person being sad, we actually experience it firsthand (remember when you bawled your eyes out during the last episode of This Is Us?  Your tear ducts started producing without anything actually happening to you in real life. Thank your mirror neurons.).

And moms, since mirror neurons are “always on” we have a huge responsibility to monitor and manage our actions and emotions as role models for our littles. It’s like we always say, It  Starts With You.

Anxiety is contagious. But so is calm. 

Like yoga, patience, guitar, healthy eating or meditation, calm takes practice. 

Our queen, Brene Brown, defines calm as mindfulness, perspective and the ability to manage emotional reactivity. 

Science shows that small moments of mindfulness are important for changing habits. When you tune in instead of tune out, ground in the present moment, listen and feel, you turn down the volume in your head. 

And you start to understand. These small moments of awareness help you gain clarity through new perspective. Like turning on the windshield wipers in your car on a stormy day.

Understanding how our minds work allows us to step away from emotional frenzy, and manage  our emotional reactivity. We’re no longer yanked around by emotion, we take the driver’s seat. We respond instead of react. 

We are calm. 

Can we help you take the first step?

Next time the overwhelm sets in, the heat rises in your face or you start to see red, notice that. Notice that you’re toeing the line, you’re at the edge. 

And linger there. 

Take a breath. 

Look around for a sec. Listen. Feel.

What comes up for you? What are you really needing in that moment? Will yelling at your kids really help? Every micro millimeter of progress counts here. Give it a try. 

Want to take this practice to the next level? We’d love to coach you. Work with us. Click here to learn more.

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