This day… How Irene copes with (nocturnal) fears

What is going on at the moment, and how do we deal with all the changes? In this blog, someone from the Flow team shares how she is dealing with the current situation: both on a practical level and in her head. This time: Irene (Flow’s creative director) talks about how she deals with the fear that sometimes strikes her at night.

Sometimes the panic overwhelms me. As a means to deal with it, I made a list on my phone’s Notes app with some comforting thoughts (and stocked up on an extra-large amount of chocolate). On that list there is a sentence that, for me, is so true: In the evenings and at night everything is worse; tomorrow it will look different again.

Because that is what I now know about myself: if something is too much for me to cope with in the evening, it suddenly feels different in the morning. I was thinking about the episode of De wereld draait door (The World Keeps Reeling; a Dutch TV talk show) recently, in which neuropsychologist Erik Scherder and the show’s presenter Matthijs van Nieuwkerk talk about their fears, and in which they both say that it is all worse at night, so much worse.

It was wonderful to see men so openly admit to it, and act like it is the most normal thing in the world. It helped me so much, to see it that way. So when I felt the panic rising on Monday night I thought: Aha, there it is again. Just let it be there. And I did a meditation, where I envisaged the fear as a little girl. A little girl who I placed on a sofa in front of me (for those who have the Insight Timer app, the meditation is called Put Fear, Shame or Guilt In Its Place and is by Susan Burrell).

But whatever meditation you decide to do, just be sure to take a good look at that fear. Let it be there. Fighting it makes it worse. A few years ago I took a course at the Center for Mindfulness in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to become a mindfulness trainer. And I learned some beautiful lessons there, which I now find useful. The center has just started a truly great initiative to help everyone in this troubled time: a daily (Dutch-only) online meditation given by the trainers via ZOOM.

I make it a daily moment: follow this meditation and then end my new evening ritual with an extra-large piece of chocolate.

  • There’s plenty of guided meditations online, for example via Headspace.

Text Irene Smit  Translation Julia Gorodecky  Photography Catherine Chu/Unsplash