The Coronavirus spread does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. I have been through many emotional roller coasters throughout this experience. It appears I am not the only one. I hope you and your family/friends/loved ones have been keeping healthy and safe.
It is normal to feel anxious about current events. This may feel overwhelming or as a ‘fight or flight’ response. I hope that you will find some of the tools within this article of help. They have helped me and the people that I coach.
The first thing to note is that everyone’s level of empathy is on a continuum and varies between people. If you have an elevated level of empathy, you may find it odd that others are less affected by the virus. If you have a high empathy level it will be important to put in extra measures to protect your emotional health. This makes you strong for you, and others.
Anxiety is bad for your health and has both physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety can be a useful warning or can be counterproductive. Adrenaline is useful during an emergency. You want to save these internal resources for when you need them most. Remain calm now so that you can be at your best when you need to be.
We all have a responsibility now to be of a calming influence on those around us. This includes our teams, our friends and loved ones. An ongoing ‘flight or fight response’ can weaken your immune system. It can also make it more difficult for you to support others.
Given the current environment it is normal to be feeling waves of anxiety. This is often caused by uncertainty.
Here are some practical tools that you can use to keep your body and mind calm and healthy:
Stay informed then limit the amount of time you spend watching the news and social media. It is important to have the knowledge but also protect your emotional health. You may notice your uncertain feelings spike after watching the news.
2. Keep Things in Perspective
We are going through uncertain and worrying times. I found some comfort reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. It is based on his true story of his experiences in a Nazi death camp. Within it are his coping mechanisms for how he got through some of the most challenging times. The book gave me a calm feeling as it reminded me that we can choose how we respond in any given situation. We always have a choice. There are quite a few useful insights of how to keep perspective during tough times.
3. Stay Present
Anxiety is worrying about the future. If you go into a panic state it is more important than ever to bring yourself back into the present moment. Focus on what is happening right now, in your life right now, as opposed to what is happening ‘out there’. Then take logical steps to deal with the current challenges facing you. Be grateful for what you have and what is going well now. Gratitude is a great antidote to fear. You can say to yourself things such as ‘at least it is not like x‘ or ‘it could be worse and be like y’.
4. Focus on What You can Control
There is so much in this situation that is out of our control, and we are relying a lot on the actions of other people. Actions that we have no control over. Focus on what you can control and what is within your realm of influence.
5. Take Action Rather than Overthinking
If you have a problem to solve, take action on it now. Pick up the phone, do that research or whatever you need to to get to the bottom of it. Procrastinating will only make you feel worse, and the problem will grow bigger in your mind.
6. Best, Middle and Worst-Case Scenarios
Throughout this pandemic there are going to be best, middle, and worst-case scenarios. If you are someone that is more empathetic then you might find that you go to worst case scenarios first. Be careful of catastrophising and jumping to worst case scenarios. Balance your mind by focusing on all feasible options. Remember that any one event is rarely ever ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’. There are generally mixes of the two.
All the best for you and your families.