The first stage is paralysis. Fear grips us so strongly that any form of movement, be it physical or emotional, is almost impossible.
The only thing you know is fear. And it is primal. Because it is connected with survival. With the core expression of our identity. Everything we hold ourselves to be in the world has been taken away.
We go direct to flight fight mode…the lizard brain. Reactive. Like a ticking bomb. Explosive. Or, completely inert and depressed.
Fear will have you wake for hours, or skate sleep. It will grip you like a vice.
Everything will become a conversation of survival. I remember even thinking about the cost of toilet paper each time I went to the bathroom. For a long time I could not look at toilet paper without being gripped again by fear. (You may laugh, but if you have been through this you will know of what I speak)
Anything to shift yourself from the fear is good.
As a 20 year first thing in the morning runner and swimmer the habit of this activity saved my life. Without the 20 years of habit, of no longer arguing with my running, the act of getting up each morning to run or swim kept me from not getting up at all.
I have a friend who was clear that the reason he went out on weekends and participated in ultra endurance hard core sport was to reduce everything down to the simplest elements. Food, water, rest, movement. All the other noise goes away. Survival become pure.
Move your body. This is not an idol request. It will shave your life. You must move.
Walk, run, swim, cycle, punch a bag…MOVE. Every day. As often as you can.
And when the fear is really strong…move…dance…force yourself to swing your arms, go for a walk.
The very act of moving will begin to shift the energy. Build movement into your life. It will move you through the stages faster.
Feel where the fear is in your body. It will be located somewhere…in your gut, in your heart, all around you, smothering you. Notice where it is each day. Feel into it. Yep, you will not want to do this, just as you will not want to move. But do it anyway.
Once you have located the feeling be present to it for a moment. Really feel it. Then imagine it as a colour or texture, or even an object or animal. And then move it…from where it is to someplace else. If it is in your gut, move it down to your legs, or up into your heat. If it is like a blanket smothering you, create a hole to breath, or make it become a net and not a blanket.
Practice these two activities every day, as often as you can.
Finally, reach out. Find someone who has been through this. Ask them to mentor you through the stages. To be there for no other reason than to listen. To be there.