Massimo Masserini, Italian racer athlete of great technical depth (master world slalom champion IFCA 2006, FW world champion GMaster 2009, WORLD CHAMPION GMaster FORMULA WINDSURFING 2010) But even clinical psychologist, Sport psychologist, Educationalist, Hypnotist and clinical sexologist, Professor at University Popolare di Bergamo Nicholas Flamel, has prepared a new episode for RIWmag.
CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 IS FOUGHT WITH BREATH
WE WHO PRACTICE WINDSURFING ARE VERY EXPERIENCED IN AIR AND WIND
In these hard and difficult days, the tragedy we are facing for coVID-19 contagion puts a strain on the physical and emotional part of so many people. Trying to make a contribution, to offer some awareness, balance and inner strength to those who need it most. This article describes concepts and practical activities for use in times of difficulty: "The approach is that if you're used to fighting against the wind, you can strengthen yourself through your breath"
Let's start from the primary emotion fear and the psychophysical condition that comes when you try it: Anxiety.
What is fear?
Fear is one of the six basic emotions, it's a primary emotion that has served our species to protect itself and has an evolutionary function, his job is to activate defensive and life-saving actions, synthesized in struggle, escape or as a last chance paralysis, to face a real danger, potential or imaginary. How many times have we been in a position of danger in our sport: fear of the force of the wind, a little foot broken in solitude in the middle of the sea, swimming in waters that can be dangerous animal territory, but also afraid to make a manoeuvre or just afraid of not being able to win a race.
What function does fear do?
Fear stimulates complex organic reactions through expressions, variable-intensity, of the Sympathetic Branch of the Autonomous Nervous System, in order to prepare the organism (body and mind) to deal with an emergency situation by deploying the best resources at their disposal by reacting in the three ways described Attack, Escape, Paralysis. It keeps us out of harm's way, provides us with skills to do amazing things and in the water with our board and sail makes us have fun.
Fear has many positives, let's get to know her:
we have different levels of correlation and activation:
- physical level for a threat of a safety in the body
- psychological level for a real or perceived emotional threat
- intensity level: activating the SNA (Orthosympathetic, Parasympathetic, Enteric)
- level of duration of the stimulus
- level of expectations and pleasant and/or painful feelings
Mixing and correlating these levels, we'll have different degrees of fear and different physical and emotional responses
Here are the various degrees and levels of fear:
Fear - less intense form, features are: uncertainty and lack of control. The level is a very low threat and can have a longer lifespan.
Anxiety – More intense form of fear, medium-high fear due to uncertainty and uncertainty of the threat, sometimes even unknown or as in this period: Invisible. The Orthosympathetic branch is activated in a state of alert with the mind and the body vigilant and ready for action, even for long periods.
Fright - here fear creates a stronger activation of the Orthosmpathetic branch, mobilizing the hormonal discharge of cortisol and consequent response (Stress) using energy resources and resulting in functional changes to the fight or flight. The real or perceived threat is immediate and the duration will be limited to the time of action and/or reaction to the stimulus.
Panic – here fear takes on such intensity as to provoke the perception of imminent death. The activation of the Orthosmpathetic system can be so intense that it hinders the correct organization of thought and action, generating situations of serious danger due to the broken emotional reaction.
Terror/Horror – here fear becomes extreme, uncontrollable and irrational, so much so that the impulse to escape anywhere as it happens in panic, you can turn into immobility (Paralysis). The activation of the Orthosympathetic system is such that it comes to collapse resulting in inability to act, exponentially intervening the Parasympathetic system that as a last chance of survival lowers to the minimum limit any vital function.
There is a great difference between the momentary expression of an emotion and its continuous manifestation so much that it becomes a persistent emotional state and, Later, Pathology. Anxiety becomes pathological when the psychophysical activities associated with the anxious state persist for very long periods making it particularly difficult, if not impossible, performing normal daily activities, in the latter case, it would be appropriate to consult a healthcare professional.
What happens when you feel the threat?
The daily news about the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic triggers continuous anxious activations that could chronicize developing pathologies and, in extreme cases, can degenerate into panic. And’ quite normal to be concerned and apprehensive while listening to the news of contagion and deaths, how normal it is to have some anxiety when you are forced to leave the house and get in touch with potentially infected strangers. Just as normal to experience anxiety before a competition, but after the start everything disappears because you are focused on the performance (state anxiety)
In these times of uncertainty and potential risk exposure, the autonomic nervous system conducts continuous assessments of environmental safety, to ensure survival by implementing strategies to enable behaviours to prevent risky situations. If in situations of uncertainty and emotional tension you feel the heartbeat accelerated or a pressure on the chest and you are in good health, you are experiencing feelings associated with anxious fear: you don't have to think about the worst right away, it's just the Orthopaedic System that's deploying its defensive strategies: your breath becomes short and the frequency increases, the heart accelerates by increasing the beats, the senses become very sensitive (also notice the slightest movement), you hear the urge to run away (adrenaline provides so much energy to make).
When this happens you have to know that anxiety is turning us into the best expression of ourselves to deal with the threat.
What it's like to feel fear from Covid-19?
Feeling the presence in the air, the imminence and unpredictability of the silent and invisible danger, generates anxiety. News of the course of the Covid-19 pandemic generates widespread anxiety, persistent and self-feeding. The Orthosympathetic System perceives from the environmental stimulus (bad news) the need to activate and undertake preparatory activities – alert the sentries, deploys the first defenses and weapon some cannons (stress hormones and glucose).
A perpetually activated system, so that you keep informing yourself from social media or TV at all hours, will generate continuous reactivations of the sympathetic system by triggering a disastrous loop:
What can I do to ease the pressure of anxiety?
You have to be aware that to ease the pressure of anxiety you need to activate a coordinated strategy of virtuous behaviors that can lower the tone of the Orthosathetic System and bring it back into balance by raising the level of that Parasympathetic.
Balance, lucidity and well-being will be the reward for running the program correctly. Sporadic activities will not give any benefit but only a momentary relief.
The first step is to identify what kind of fear you feel: Fear, anxiety or fear?
To do this you sit in a quiet place, silent and familiar, closing his eyes:
Being aware of your emotional state can give us much more confidence in being able to manage it.
2 Manage and Transform
We recommend that you do this simple exercise:
diaphragmatic abdominal breath 4-6-2 (4" inhalation with the nose – 6" breathing with the mouth – 2" I hold my breath) and start again 5 minutes
The goal is to bring the Autonomous Nervous System back into balance, decreasing the action of the Sympathetic and stimulating that of the Parasympathetic, through the rhythmic action of the Vago Nervo.
And’ just the Vagus Nerve our greatest nervous resource in situations where anxiety and other negative emotions try to take over.
To transform the anxious situation, the Vagus Nerve must be stimulated in a rhythmic way through diaphonic breathing, circular and slow and steady.
On the market there are various products that measure heart consistency and heart variability (Hrv) indices that give us guidance on our SNA: Inner Balance by selfcoherence.com or similar biofeedback devices indicate in real time whether exercise is working or not and adapt your breathing to your natural neurovegetative response rate.
3 The 7 Psychologist's Indications for Healthy Epidemic Management
- Keep your sleep-wake rhythm intact
Fundamental rule to follow to avoid incurring sleep disturbances from alteration of circadian rhythm: go to sleep at the usual time, as well as waking up as we're used to doing with or without the aid of an alarm clock, you can sleep a little more but not beyond 1/2 hours more than usual time. Slipping into a sleep-wake rhythm reversal is easier than we can imagine.
- Awareness of the days of the week and structure new activities
Sunday is not like Monday, Wednesdays is not like Saturday. It is essential to remember what day we are living and behave accordingly trying to maintain the usual routine. You can try to redesign the day with new activities trying to always give a stable and constant structure that has a psychological sense and Chronological. Trying to maintain your weekly habits will allow you to be ready to restart when the emergency is back
- Taking care of yourself
"Don't shave" "Don't cure your hair" "don't take a shower" "don't brush your teeth". It's very wrong! This attitude makes us lose touch with our healthy side and continually brings us back to the emergency situation we are experiencing, making it even more vivid. Makes the person and those next to them in a sometimes depressive dimension, off and unhealthy, contributing to sadness, boredom and apathy.
- Maintaining social contacts.
Man is a "social animal", we can't stand without the other, you can't isolate. Sociality is the first innate necessity for the human being, it's intrinsic in our species. Today technology can help us maintain social relationships even if we stay indoors. Better a video call to a voice call; will give more sense of closeness and will give it especially to the sunniest people, to our elders, our children. Card games can be arranged with friends; there are so many applications that help you do it remotely; you can have a tea with friends; enjoying it together, chatting via Skype or on other online platforms... In short,, you can use your imagination to make sure that technology can help preserve habitual social pastimes.
- Physical activity and healthy eating
Physical activity helps reduce stress and anxiety; it also activates the chemistry of happiness by releasing endorphins useful to our mind. You can find numerous training plans online, as well as all kinds of fitness classes; do household chores or do small maintenance jobs, hold the garden or fix the terrace, are all activities that raise your heart rate beyond the usual threshold. The diet needs to be balanced on the basis of daily consumption which is obviously likely to have been reduced; must rich in all nutrients, Carbohydrates and Proteins, in the right blend are our gasoline Calorica.
Design new tasks, hobbies, read interesting books, Paint, study or do online courses at a distance. Now is the time to do it! Building a healthy design, helps you feel connected to the future, fuels our ambitions and helps the mind to "think" about the future in a constructive and healthy way. Let your unconscious out and try you follow your desires, passions. So you can produce dopamine, the neurotransmitter hormone of well-being and serenity.
- Personal space, limiting listening to news, news and TV
It is very useful to have your own private space in which no one can enter. Although the house is as small as most of our modern homes, and there is no personal room available, you need to take a private space/time, where you can reflect, Think, Meditate, listen to music, read a book, talk to a friend/friend. Of course, it will be useful to agree times and ways with cohabitants... limiting listening to TV, radio and news related to the Epidemic. It is useful to be informed, but not bombarded with news, because this can increase the state of alert and attention, creating anxiety and emotional tension. Better to choose a moment of the day for information, it is not recommended in the evening not to have a voltage overload that would lead to a poor sleep.
This tragic epochal event, will change society and interpersonal relationships a lot, making us realize that we are fragile, and just a simple virus to create death and global despair. Above all, we will have consolidated the awareness that we always need the Other, and that we're all interconnected. We will surely have more attention to the environment in which we live and the care of the time to devote to the affections and love for ourselves. Finally, as Lacan argued, we must not abandon our unconscious desire, so you must always follow that inner voice of our Unconscious, guiding us in the right direction.
My thoughts and that of the entire MindFit Clinic team goes to friends, acquaintances and all medical staff (our HEROES) engaged on the front line to save the lives of thousands of people.
Thank you very much
Dr Massimo Masserini
text: Massimo Masserini 4 www.RIWmag.com
photo courtesy: JC (c) PWA
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