Creative people are not immune to the effects of traumatic events. Recently on Facebook, I made what I thought was a benign comment related to recovering from COVID-19. To my surprise, I received more than one not so lovely reply from semi to perfect strangers asking me to prove and explain world virus recovery rates and other recent political media occurrences. Feelings aside, I believe the postings were not personal arguments. (After all, what sane person would attack their supposed “Facebook friend.”) But I think the postings were expressions of fear and anxiety by the writers.
If possible, I prefer to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. I want to suggest some simple, common sense ways to soothe the anxiety and refocus your positive energy. Your social media friends may be glad you did.
Take a Mindful Moment
One of the best ways to start feeling better is to count your blessings. With so much bad news in the media, make a point to turn your thoughts to what’s good in your present life. Take a moment to take stock of your blessings and make a point to feel thankful.
Give the Media a Break
As a result of the COVID crisis, we’re all giving a lot of attention to the media to be up on when our lives may start to come back to a semblance of normal. As a result of this crisis, too much media coverage can intensify your anxiety. The Genesis blog, Coping with Fear and Anxiety Following a Traumatic Event, notes that “If news stories make you anxious, limit yourself to one newscast a day. Avoid social media, which can often contain false information and strong opinions, which may include anger, blame, and generalizations.”
For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.“
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Focus on One Activity at a Time
Many people are still trying to do business as usual, which often includes multitasking. Under normal circumstances, a voice talent must wear many hats, but currently, we are not under normal circumstances. Try to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Moreover, we often surf the Internet or respond to text messages while doing any number of mindless activities. Give your mind a break so you can continue to function in this uncertain time. It’s alright for you to enjoy the slowdown. You can pick up where you left off later.
Resist Pavlovian Conditioning
Conditioning and behavior are often learned. We are taught to respond to a ringing phone, text message alerts, and even today’s reports about the pandemic. Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) experimented with dogs and demonstrated “classical conditioning” (also referred to as Pavlovian conditioning). Pavlov proved that a link could be developed between one event or occurrence that could result in a specific subconscious behavior associated with another activity.
Instead of reacting to negative comments, bad news, and other information, refuse to let difficult information disturb your spirit, especially events that you have no control over or the ability to change. This is not being insensitive. Refusing to dwell on the negative is being sensitive to your needs and what is the best response for your mental health at this time. You don’t have to respond to subliminal stimuli or Pavlovian conditioning. Take a breath, gather your thoughts, let your storm of feelings, and fear pass. Choose to maintain your composure with calmness.
Learn to Exercise and Breathe
Exercising and breathing is another way to inner peace. Take a walk (via social distancing) outside day or night and let the feeling of movement take your mind and body to a better space. Take good breaths to fill your lungs. Deep breathing automatically relaxes the mind and body. Something as simple as counting to 10 and taking one or two slow deep breaths can change one’s whole outlook.
A little self care, to include the above, can go a long way to restore a voice-over’s sanity in a troubled world. As you know, humanity has seen diseases, pestilence, and war throughout history. I believe we will survive COVID-19 and thrive. So today, do your sanity check, we will need you on the other side.
Break a lip? Oh, yea!