Taming Those Unsettled Feelings About Our Uncertain Future

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Ashley Batz on Unsplash!

by Connie Hernandez, ND

These times of widespread disruption – political dysfunction, societal unrest, economic instability, and destructive natural events – are bound to take their toll on our emotions.

The litany goes on:

  • News that contradicts our views is branded “fake.
  • Popular digital media are accused of contributing to the mayhem.
  • Confinement at home disrupts our routines, as businesses and beaches open and close.
  • As the viral death count rises and the stock market swings, the future is uncertain.

It would be more surprising if people WEREN’T feeling unsettled.

Unsettled emotions can present as fear, anxiety, irritability, anger, or depression. The potential physical repercussions are many: they can vary from gastrointestinal distress, to hives, to increased blood pressure, to musculoskeletal pain.

These times have even spawned a new word: “Coronasomnia,” for lying awake at night worrying.

What are your ways of coping?

Some of us stick our heads in the sand and try to forget about or ignore the events swirling around us.

Others attempt to educate themselves on world affairs.

Others obsess over the unfortunate directions they see things going.

The fortunate few are able to take it all in and respond appropriately while maintaining their inner peace.

Few people have the inner skills to simply observe and accept events over which they have no control, or to view those events with compassionate detachment.

To the degree that external events evoke emotional reactions in us, our limbic system, the seat of the survival instinct is activated deep in our brains.

Primitive emotions live here. Faced with protracted fear and anger, the limbic fear pathways become a habit – strengthening those patterns of fear and anger in the brain.

The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that counterbalances the limbic system. This is the brain area that controls higher functioning – including the ability to be successful, to form long-term plans and achieve them, and to experience hope and joy. It’s the seat of willpower and concentration in the body – a strong prefrontal cortex contributes to our ability to come up with upbeat, creative solutions and enjoy life.

People with a weak flow of energy in their prefrontal cortex lack concentration and are more prone to negative thinking, insomnia, addiction, and other negative stress-related conditions.

The good news is that you can CHOOSE to move out of fear and anger and into a state of higher functioning.

Photo: Grateful thanks to Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash!

Just as you can train your body to achieve fitness and athletic success, you can train your mind and your emotions.

A major way to train your brain is through meditation. Meditation stimulates the prefrontal lobes of the brain and develops highly beneficial changes in other brain areas of as well.

These positive brain changes positively alter our perceptions and behaviors. They open doors through which we can move beyond emotional reactivity and develop the ability to respond creatively to the world around us. Along the way, we become calmer, more serviceful, and more joyful.

These brain changes can be realized in as little as two weeks. After just three months they can be seen as permanent structural changes on brain imaging studies.

Beneficial brain changes occur in people meditating as little as fifteen minutes a day. And it’s not only your brain that changes – the mental, emotional, and physical manifestations of stress also change.

Meditation helps you reduce stress, improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure, lengthen your attention span, sharpen your memory, feel greater kindness and compassion, and much more. In short, meditation can help settle those unsettled feelings.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, or use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch. Thank you!