I made the most of an opportunity to catch up with the Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of NZ at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning.
I also met her in person last Sunday at our Free Hug event, as she and her partner Clarke walked by on the Wellington waterfront, it had taken me by surprise to see her but I quickly regained my composure, and asked her if she wanted a Hug and she said 'SURE', and I gave her one of my best hugs.
It seems unreal that our Prime Minister, possibly one of the only PM's in the world who still makes time to enjoy a walk on the waterfront and who mingles with the people without much fanfare. Yes she had security with her but it was all very understated.
With the elections are coming up in a few months, my vote will certainly be pointed towards Jacinda Ardern and the green party led by James Shaw. I had always voted National, but this year I am already tired of hearing the screeching coming from the seemingly dis-organised National party.
I have also taken some time to reflect on the effect of the Covid-19 outbreak that affected us in New Zealand but much less so than many countries, and on just how lucky we were to escape the worst of it.
During our isolation, which seems like forever ago now, listening to the daily updates from our compassionate and articulate Prime Minister and her team, I am reminded of how incredibly versatile and resilient we are, and how for most of us here in NZ, life is largely back to normal. Of course there are exceptions with zero international travel and some job losses across the country, we have been incredibly lucky to only a have a small number of deaths from Covid-19. We have so much to be grateful for.
I ponder on why that was - my conclusion is that in part it was the way that Jacinda Ardern and her team including Dr Bloomfield managed the news coverage to our nation. For NZ the message was clear and simple "Stay Home and Be Kind" and this was a hugely different neuro-linguistic message to what is being expressed by many leaders in other countries, where from a neuro-linguistic standpoint, the messaging been primarily focused on fear, death and isolation. Maybe the world truly has something to learn from New Zealand.
As we read the news around the Coronavirus COVID-19, talk to our colleagues, family and friends some of us are feeling so overwhelmed, so gripped by fear that we are not thinking clearly.
Please know that we have the ability to react to this situation in several ways. We can follow the herd and continue to stock up like a famine/plague is descending upon us, stocking up with toilet paper and other necessities in a state of total fear or we can take a deep breath and calm down.
We have a choice with how we deal with this pandemic in a more helpful way.
Begin by absolutely acknowledging any fear and/or negative emotions you are experiencing fully. By bringing awareness to how we feel, we can choose our next steps with more rational clarity.
Do we really want to stay in fight/flight or in elevated stress hormones (high cortisol and high beta brainwaves), as if we are being chased by a lion and are running away from an attacker for hours, days, weeks or months? Hopefully not because it drains our immune system and stops us making balanced choices. When we are in a prolonged state of high stress, we shut down the Neocortex part of our brain which helps us to make rational decisions and instead we use the Reptilian part which helps us focus on immediate survival like animals and not like normal human beings, we are able to make rational conscious choices if we re-focus our attention.
What can we do about this?
We can decide that we will stop looking at the news feeling fearful and instead with an attitude of managed concern which is a mental and emotional state that can leave us informed but not infected and debilitated by the virus.
Returning our attention to the good in our lives, focusing on being or staying healthy, being happy, being aware of our thoughts and returning to more helpful and positive thoughts when we find ourselves returning to fear-based thinking.
The problem with focusing a large part of our attention on the virus is that fighting it, talking about it, feeling it, thinking about it, increases the likelihood that you will get it because when you focus on the unwanted aspect of something in an effort of pushing it away from you, it comes closer to you because what you give your energy to, you bring to you. It is irrelevant whether you want it or not.
If we deeply believe that we are healthy, that we will continue to stay healthy and laugh off the fear, seeing it as unnecessary and unhelpful, we will more than likely stay healthy. Our immune system is not as strong and does not continue to regenerate health and repair when we are in a heightened state of fear. It shuts down to focus the body's energy on survival.
By realising that and consciously changing our state we can come back into alignment. Using the following SUGGESTIONS will help. We want to get back into low beta brainwaves so that all parts of our brain are working coherently (Neocortex, limbic and reptilian).
My suggestion is to look after yourself and your loved ones by -
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
Eating citrus fruits or take high-quality Vitamin C supplements daily
Continuing to eat healthily
Get outside into the sunshine for 30-minutes each day
Going for a nice walk, bike ride, yoga or some form of exercise as this will increase oxytocin levels and this makes us feel happier
Where possible grounding yourself by going barefoot on the moist grass, or at your local beach every day for a few minutes
Listen to happy and uplifting music
Being grateful for your health and know that we will get through this blip
Taking calm deep breaths for 5-minutes at a time, in and out through your nose multiple times a day.
Imagine counting in as you breath in through your nose for 4 counts, holding for 2 counts, breathing out for 6+ counts. As you breathe in, imagine that you are breathing in through your heart, saying to yourself "I am breathing in health” and on the exhale say in your mind “I am breathing out fear/stress/anger/frustration” or whatever you need to let go off.
This will help to get back into heart and brain coherence if performed several times a day
Meditate daily - bringing your focus inwards. Having a mantra of "Health" in your meditations will help. Know and feel that you are healthy and that you are immune to this virus.
Staying in a deep state of gratitude, happiness and calm.
Repeat the following affirmation many times a day if you would like to - I am strong and I will continue to stay healthy, I am calm and filled with compassion!
Working on being in a coherent heart and mind state as much as possible. Managed concern is ok and continue focusing staying healthy.
Big Hug, Nicole
If you would like to learn more or to book in a coaching session get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Wijngaarden, Relationship | Mental Health & Wellbeing Coach Wellington, New Zealand