The ongoing covid-19 pandemic is no longer news to many and as a result fear has become their close relatives (if you know what I mean).
But unbeknownst to many, fear also triggers a chain reaction that exposes the individual to further harm.
In the words of David Ropeik: “Our modern world is a risky place and evokes many well-founded fears. But these fears themselves create a new risk for our health and well-being that needs to be addressed.
This is indeed true as research has shown that fear weakens the immune system.
So let’s quickly understand how fear works so we can grasp how it reduces an individual’s immunity.
HOW DOES FEAR WORK?
Fear is best seen as a chain reaction that occurs in the brain that triggers other responses in the other parts of the body. These responses are summed up in the phrase: “fight-flight response“.
In simple terms, the “fight-flight response” explains the fact that an individual can either flee from a perceived harmful stimulus(flight) or he or she can fight the stimulus(fight).
Now the decision depends on the brain which signals the individual to stay and fight the stimulus if it believes that the perceived danger is greater than what the individual can handle while on the other hand it signals the individual to flee if it believes the stimulus is one that cannot be handled by the individual.
The part of the brain where the first fear response occurs is the amygdala. The amygdala triggers other responses in the body by stimulating a part of our nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system. (Please don’t get bothered about the big grammar).
Below are the corresponding responses that arise as a direct result of the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system:
- 1. An increase in blood pressure.
2. An increase in heart rate.
3. Dilation (widening) of the pupils.
4. Temporary shut down of the digestive system.
5. Muscle contractions, etc.
These responses make the body ready for action in the following ways:
– The increase in heart rate would enable increased blood flow to the muscles for fight-flight response.
– The increased pupilary dilation is for clearer and sharper vision.
– The temporary shut down of the digestive system is because the system is not needed in the fight-flight response. Hence in order to maximize the available energy and body resources, the body redirects blood flow to the brain, heart and muscles while reducing blood flow to the digestive system.
– The muscle contractions get the individual ready for action.
Now most if not all of these responses are experienced by an individual when faced with perceived danger.
However, when the amygdala perceives a stimulus or event as a threat, the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus (other parts of the brain) help to interpret the threat to know if it’s real or not. And if the perceived threat is not real, the fight-flight response is discontinued.
Now here lies the problem guys, the amygdala does not just cause these changes mentioned above. It also triggers the release of stress hormones in response to a perceived threat.
And stress hormones have a direct impact on an individual’s immunity.
Corticosteriod (a major stress hormone) for instance, reduces the body’s concentration of lymphocytes and lymphocytes play a vital role in the body’s defence mechanism which fights off foreign organisms (including infectious diseases) from infecting the body.
This is the reason why when an individual is constantly in a state of fear or panic, he or she would sooner than later become infected by foreign organisms.
Like I said earlier, the reason is because of the immunity-suppression effect of the stress hormones released by the body when one is afraid or in a state of panic.
Now that you’ve seen that your fear of contracting COVID-19 is predisposing you even further to contracting the virus by reducing your immunity, hence the need for you to eliminate fear totally in order to keep your immune system up and bubbling remains of paramount importance.
HOW TO GET RID OF FEAR
I tell you the truth, the solution that I am about to share with you is something I have practised and I know without a doubt that it always works.
I used to live in fear of many things. And I suffered the torment of fear for a long time but once I started to apply the recommendations in this post, I got over fear and it’s torment for good.
This is an activity based on facts and truth.
So here’s the simple analogy:
Your brain sends fear signals to your body because it has a reason to do so. That is because there’s an event which your brain believes can cause you harm. Now what happens when that event seizes to be a threat to you?
Yeah you got it right! Your brain stops sending fear signals.
That is exactly where I am going. But one cannot just close his or her eyes in the face of danger (including COVID-19) in order for the brain to stop sending the fear signals.
Rather, your brain stops making you afraid when your brain knows that you’re either immune (but sadly according to medical science, no one is immune to the virus) or that you’re protected from the virus with an infallible protection.
So let’s talk about the second point briefly. (i.e You’re protect from the virus).
God Almighty has spoken to us Christians about fear and what he expects of us. He has in fact given his children divine protection from any kind of disease or plague whatsoever. And when you realize these truths by meditating on them, your brain realises there is nothing to be afraid of and fear becomes a thing of the past. (If you’re not a Christian, but would love to become one, in order to enjoy these benefits, kindly refer to my previous posts).
And I have outlined some of these in the facts below:
God protects his children from plagues:
“For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease“. (psalm 91:3. NLT)
God needs you to trust him and get rid of fear:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)
“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you”. (Isaiah 41:13)
When you meditate on these verses, fear will be dispelled from your mind.
And this way, you overcome fear and would never be tormented by fear again. And make up your mind that you will never let fear torment you again. DON’T PRESS THE PANIC BUTTON.
Thank you for reading today’s post, kindly drop your comments about what yoI’ll like me to post about in the comments section and ask your questions as well and I will talk to you soon. But until then, keep fit!
- Covid-19: How to stay physically active at home - June 17, 2020
- Covid-19: 7 harmful effects of physical inactivity to your health - May 20, 2020
- COVID-19: Why fear is your greatest enemy - April 14, 2020
A final year medical student at the University of Nigeria. A fitness coach and a music director.