If you’re feeling fearful about getting the vaccine, please know that you are not alone. While there are many who may not understand, many of those who have lived with illness, particularly post-viral fatigue, will be familiar with the feelings of fear around this; the question on everyone’s mind being, “Will this trigger the illness again?”
First and foremost, and just to be clear, I’m not getting into a conversation about the shoulds and shouldn’ts of having the vaccine, and whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do. Obviously, no one can say what the outcome will be for each individual. And we can’t always control that external outcome. But as with everything in life, the thing that we CAN influence is our response, and our mindset.
So, hereon in is some food for thought and guidance around how you can more effectively manage your mindset, to support not only your decision making but your health.
Two areas of attention
When it comes to dealing with anxiety around the covid-19 vaccine, there are two things you need to address:
1) How you view your body
2) Your decision-making process
How do you view your body?
When it comes to the first point, there will no doubt be fear that, should the vaccine have an effect, you could be plunged back into a world of symptoms that no person would ever want to go back to. But the problem here is that, already, the brain is unwittingly being directed down a path that you don’t want to go.
Remember, there’s a chance you may well notice some side effects. But, that doesn’t mean they’re there to stay. And, if your brain is already projecting a longer-term future with those symptoms, it’s not going to help.
In the case of anxiety like this, there’s often an underlying thought or belief that the body is not working well enough to withstand life’s challenges. And, if you’re already struggling with illness, there may even be an unconscious belief that your body is working against you, rather than for you.
In cases like these, the unconscious dialogue going on behind the scenes, will be something like, “My body is vulnerable,” “My body is at the mercy of this external influence,” “My body is not strong enough,” “I can’t trust my body.”
Any of this resonate?
A while back, I stumbled upon this quote:
“Trust is like the air that we breathe, when it’s there, no one notices it, when it’s gone, everyone notices.” Warren Buffett.
And it really hit me. When we’re going about our daily lives, we’re not questioning everything and wondering if it’s all okay; if it will work or if it is strong enough to endure. We don’t get into bed and panic that the bed does not have what it needs to support us. We don’t head into the kitchen to make our breakfast and panic that our ability to make a good slice of toast is compromised.
Because as ridiculous as these examples seem, there’s an innate trust underlying all that we do.
Now when you take that trust away, therein lies the pathway to anxiety. And with health, it comes back to the sentiment that we simply do not trust our bodies to work well for us.
So it’s true, that having that innate trust is not something we are usually conscious of. But when it’s absent, it becomes glaringly apparent.
The power of thought
Now that we know this, we need to turn the conversation around, from one of doubt and fear, into one of trust.
There’s a very common saying in personal development world, which is “Thoughts, create feelings, create actions.” What’s interesting is people will often spend a lot of their time trying to fix the feelings and actions, but if you can get to the thought first, then it’s going to be a lot more effective.
So take a moment, right now. Set aside five-ten minutes and consider what thoughts you would have if you simply trusted that your body was okay. Consider what someone who has never experienced illness might think. Or perhaps consider how you used to think before illness. What kind of things would you be thinking about? How would you view your body?
It might be something like, “I know my body is the expert, and it has everything it needs to do its job well.” Or perhaps, you wouldn’t even be thinking about your body; you’d be thinking about all the things you’ll be able to do once we’re out of lockdown life. There’s loads you could come up with – aim to fill up an A4 page.
Adding some extra juice
Once you’ve done this, you’ve got the basis for a lovely little brain training exercise that will help you to really step into what it feels like to be living from this place of trust. And remember, things have to be created in the mind first, before they can be created in reality. So this is important stuff. You need to be explicit in telling your brain where it needs to go.
When you have this ready to go, turn it into a story. You can either journal it out, or do it in your mind, but just imagine what life is like when you are living from this place; with this new set of thoughts and beliefs.
- How different will life be?
- How will you spend your time?
- How relaxed will you be?
- How will these feelings of trust change the way you hold yourself and interact with the world?
- How will it change the way in which others see you?
There are loads of questions you can ask yourself and consider, but these are a few to start you off.
If you’re finding this a bit of a challenge, consider areas of your life where you are already have a sense of trust. For example, the relationship you have with those closest to you, where you would trust them with your deepest secrets. Or, on the lighter side, the trust you have when you go to a restaurant (oh, those days are soon upon us) and you know the waiter will bring out your meal in the next half an hour or so. Or when you get a papercut, you know it will heal.
It’s basically thinking about anything you know to be true. And when you have connected to that, imagine taking that feeling and living all areas of life from this place. It may take a bit of work but believe me, it works.
And when you start to operate from this place, you start to realise you can relax in the knowing that your body has everything it needs, which in turn shuts down the fight or flight response and gets you back into a place where you can make decisions from a calmer and more practical place (rather than one driven by fear and anxiety).
Decisions, decisions, decisions
Coming to the second point, we need to look at how you feel about decision making. If you are prone to perfectionism and anxiety, this process will be a lot more challenging because your brain will be getting hung up on making the ‘right’ decision.
But hold up… what if there was no right or wrong decision?
Ultimately, in times of uncertainty, the only thing we can really do, is use the information we have available to us, and accept that we have made the best decision we can based on the options available to us.
Stepping into acceptance, and being at peace with your decision is the most useful gift you can give yourself in times like these.
If you’re struggling with this concept, and are thinking “Well that’s easier said than done,”- think about it this way:
You have a choice.
On the one hand, you can make the decision and spend the rest of the time feeling anxious about why it’s the wrong decision and questioning yourself…
You can feel proud of yourself that you’ve come to a decision in what is otherwise a challenging time, and decide to move forwards from a place of peace; enjoying life moment by moment, and knowing you no longer have to do that mental tennis back and forth, which let’s face it – is exhausting.
Which one would you prefer?
I’m guessing the second.
Train your brain, change your health
So there we have it.
Consider which elements of this blog piece have resonated with you, and give yourself two key actions to take away and practice each day.
Neuroplasticity is always on, and so the more consistent you are with training your brain in the direction you want, the more solid and long-lasting changes you will make.