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       In this difficult time curing the COVID-19 crisis, I want to talk to you for a few minutes about how you can control anxiety brought on by COVID-19 and how you feel at any given time.

      We are totally bombarded with mostly negative news from the media, from our friends, almost everywhere you go.

      Sometimes it can become too much and influence and affect how we think and create anxiety and other feelings that might not serve us well.

      Here are three things that you can use immediately to manage anxiety caused by COVID-19 so you can be in a more empowered position.

      When I say empowered, I mean moving towards the things you want instead of not taking action or moving away from the things you want.

      Please understand that I’m not saying that fear and anxiety is always wrong.

      Fear can be extremely useful because it protects you from things that can be dangerous. But, outside of that context, it may not be useful. It might be holding you back from moving ahead and getting the things you want in life.

      Anxiety is natural, but it also may not be useful all the time. Panic is natural and useful at sometimes, but not always so.

      Before you go any further, take a moment and decide if your anxiety or fear about the COVID-19 situation is useful and serving you well? Is it protecting you, or is it blocking you?

      Or, it’s possible that some level of fear and anxiety is reasonable, but you may also have too much.

      This is something only you can decide.

      If decide you want to reduce your COVID-19 anxiety, here are three things that control how you feel at any given time.

      Three Factors That Imact Your Anxiety Level

      1. Focus. What are you thinking about?
      2. Physiology. What is your body doing? What is your face doing and how are you sitting? How are you moving?
      3. Dialog, both internal and external. What are you saying when you talk yourself? Yes, of course, we all talk to ourselves. It’s perfectly normal and natural. And… what are other people and media saying to you?

       

      Let’s take a look at each one of these three individually, and I’m going to give you an example of a time when I was under extreme stress and I needed to manage my extreme level of anxiety at the time.

      The Effect Of Focus on Anxiety

      The first factor that can impact your level of anxiety is focus.

      You always have a choice about what you are going to focus on whether it seems like it or not, you can be in control of what you are paying attention to at any given time.

      Let me give you an example.

      A couple of years ago, my daughter and I went to Hawaii and we were going to a place called Mauna Kea.

      Mauna Kea is a huge extinct volcano that has three observatories on top of it.

      These are enormously powerful telescopes that look up in outer space and one of the reasons they work so well is because Mauna Kea is at 14,000 feet above sea level. This means that it’s above the clouds as you can see in this picture.

      And being above the clouds means that when are driving to the top where the observatories are, you actually drive through the clouds.

      For me the biggest challenge for getting to the top of Mauna Kea is that you drive on a one lane gravel, lava gravel road with no guardrails and it switchbacks across the side of the volcano until you get to the top.

      Of course, when you get there, it’s spectacular!

      But… getting up there for me was extremely difficult.

      As we started up the side of the hill, I’m looking out the window, and I am starting to freak out, because when you look out that window, you don’t see anything. It’s just straight down.

      And I’m starting to panic – because what was I focused on?

      I was focused on what I was seeing outside of the window, which was basically nothingness, which leads me to thoughts like, “oh, my God, we’re all going to die”.

      Then I thought: “This is not worth it. Maybe they should just let me off here and I’ll wait for them to come back down. They can pick me up on the way down.”

      Crazy thoughts like that because of what I was focused on.

      So, my question to you is, in your current situation, in your current circumstance where we are in the world right now, what are you focused on?

      Are you focused mainly on the problems?

      There’s nothing wrong with thinking about problems because that’s how we solve them.

      But, are you only thinking about the problems?

      What else could you focus on that might serve you better?

      The Effect Of Physiology on Anxiety

      The second factor in how you feel is physiology.

      What are you doing with your face? What are you doing with your body? How do you walk? How do you move?

      This is something we don’t give much thought to, but I guarantee that if you’re smiling, you feel better – even in the worst of circumstances.

      Here’s a question I ask in a live event and people laugh about this because it’s a it’s a little controversial. The question is: are you happy because your smile. Or do you smile because you’re happy?

      The answer is that you smile because you’re happy.

      And the other side is true also.

      You can make yourself happy or maybe at least feel better if you smile.

      So, the next time you feel yourself getting anxious, what if you focused on the muscles in your face and what they are doing?

      I promise that if you change what your face is doing, you’ll start to change the way you’re feeling.

      Going up Mauna Kea my physiology was terrible.

      My hands were gripping onto the seat in front of me in the tour bus we were on.

      This tour bus was a very special tour bus designed for this particular purpose.

      It had three sets of wheels – a set in the front, a set in the middle, and a set in the back. The reason it had a set in the middle is because it had to have a good grip on the road as its going back and forth up the gravel switchback road.

      It was made for this purpose, but it was for me terrifying.

      So, I am gripping onto the seat in front of me. Hard.

      Let me ask you this question: If I wanted to be less stressed, less anxious in this situation, what physiology change could I make fairly easily?

      Am I gripping the seat because I’m scared, or am I scared because I’m gripping the seat?

      The answer is that it’s a cycle that is not servicing me well.

      If I let go of that seat, I’m going to automatically relax more.

      And if I’m gripping onto the seat with my face completely tense, and looking out the window thinking “Oh, my God, we’re gonna fall”, or course I’m going to be anxious and stressed.

      The Effect Of Dialog on Anxiety

      The third factor that impacts your level of anxiety is what you are saying to yourself and what other people are saying to you.

      Your internal dialog is so crucial to how you feel.

      As I’m going up Mauna Kea, I am saying to myself, “oh, my God, we’re all going to die. I should have never done this.”

      And then to make it even worse, I’m saying, “I’m so scared, I’m so scared” and I’m just repeating this over and over and over in my head.

      “I can’t believe I’m doing this. Maybe they should just stop and let me off here and pick me up on the way back down. And that would be much better than this. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.”

      This is what’s going over and over and over in my head, and it’s not useful at all because the longer it goes on, the worse I feel.

      But…

      I want to get up there.

      I’ve got a big goal.

      I’ve got a big reason for going up there because I really want to see what the night sky looks like when there’s nothing in between me and the sky.

      When I got there, it was worth it because when it got dark, I could see thousands of stars. I had no idea there were so many stars.

      I could see the gas clouds of the Milky Way from up there with just my bare eyes because there were no clouds or light pollution in the way. 

      Then when the tour guide brought out the small telescope and let us look at Saturn, I knew that it was worth it.

      But getting up there, that was a challenge.

      So, to help everything, my teen age daughter is with me and says: “Hey, dad, why you do what you teach those other people to do?”

      Arghhh…

      Leave it to your teenage daughter to say something like that to you.

      But was she right?

      Yes, of course she was right.

      So, what did I do to get to the top of Mauna Kea without melting down?

      First of all, I changed my focus.

      Instead of looking out the window, I picked a spot on the floor, in the pattern on the carpet and I stared at the spot instead of looking out the window.

      Then I changed my physiology.

      Instead of gripping the seat and having my face all tensed up, I forced myself to relax my face. I let go the seat and sat back and cross my hands on my lap.

      Finally, instead of saying, “I’m so scared”, I said “this is so exciting”.

      Doing these three things made me less stressed, less anxious, less terrified going to the top of Mauna Kea.

      So, my question to you is, what is stressing you out today?

      What is causing you anxiety?

      What is causing you panic and maybe even terror?

      And how can you use focus, physiology, and dialog to change the way you feel now?

      These are the three things that you can do that will instantly change the way you feel, just like they helped me.

      Mauna Kea is a long way from COVID-19, but they will help to reduce your anxiety and improve the results you get in your life and in the world, especially at this very, very difficult time.

      I’ve got another video coming up. It’s an adventure where I’m going to talk you through using a technique that’s also very, very powerful for reducing and eliminating anxiety.

      But right now, I’m going to challenge you to examine your focus, be aware of your physiology, and be aware of your internal dialog.

      How are they making you feel and how can you make changes in one of them, two of them, or even all three of them to quickly change the way you feel?

      Thanks for joining me.

      I always appreciate having you here.

      And I look forward to meeting you live and in person when we can do that again.

      Stay safe and have a great day.

      More COVID-19 Communication Resources

      Now, more than ever, effective communication can impact relationships and outcomes in a positive way.

      Here’ a link to all of my COVID-19 communication resources.

      You may also be interested in my TEDx talk about Why You Feel The Way You Do and How To Change It.