The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire, not things we fear. [BRIAN TRACY]
Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress can make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger or you can let it overwhelm and paralyse you. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in but, more importantly, your level of emotional intelligence.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include the elderly, those with chronic diseases who are at higher risk, children and teens, people who are helping with the response to COVID-19 (like doctors, first responders and other health care providers), as well as those with mental health conditions including like substance use or extreme anxiety.
During this time it is quite normal for people to feel overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, anxiety or fear. It is therefore more important to talk about your feelings. Don’t assume someone is feeling a particular way, rather ask them and encourage them to talk about their feelings.
If we are unable to navigate our emotions it can lead to difficulty sleeping, emotional outbursts or even suppression thereof. Fear and uncertainty result in us spending more time in our emotional brain and operating from an emotional hijack where we typically react by fighting, freezing or fleeing. When we are in this state we react rather than respond; and in this state we also tend to push people away from us (without even realizing it).
I recently attended a webinar with Six Seconds where we looked at the things, we can control versus those we can’t. We all felt so much calmer by the end of the session after having shared what the feelings were that we were experiencing, and agreeing to focus more energy on the things we can control. Our thoughts are within our power to control and manage.
Here are a few things you can do to support yourself during these challenging times. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Choose to be selective in the social media that you follow or engage with.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy and often don’t have the time to enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. One of my colleagues made such a valuable point when he said, practice physical distancing and not social distancing. We need to keep contact with our friends and family by using the various virtual options that we have available.
- Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
- When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.
- Learn more about taking care of your emotional health and put your emotional intelligence into practice.
Start with talking about how you feel, and explore where those feelings are coming from. Look at the thoughts, feeling and behavior patterns that might not be working well for you and grab hold of them. Help others to also do this for themselves.
Remember you have a choice in the situation you face. Decide that you will not be a victim to feelings but rather that you will be a conqueror. Stay positive and learn to navigate those emotions for your own personal wellbeing. Look at some of the positive aspects in the midst of this crisis and commit to continuing those positive practices once the pandemic is over.
We are normally so busy in our hectic work and social lives that we often forget to just be in the moment and appreciate what we do have. Be kind to yourself and others and remain non-judgmental. Practice optimism and focus on the fact that this is a period of time that will pass and will impact our future, so let’s look at how we can shift this impact into a positive perspective.
Perhaps an important question to ask yourself is …
when we look back on this situation five or ten years from now how do we want to see ourselves? What was our role, our contribution?
There is more to the story to unfold. There are people who are suffering and we can help them. More emotional intelligence is the key. We can solve this problem by looking outward, upward and ahead, to tap into our emotions as a source of connection with the future, each other and who we want to be in the world. So let’s practice emotional intelligence more and grab hold of this virus not allowing it to grab hold of us.
As one of the current corona sufferers, Herman Chalupsky says, “the hardest part is not being sick, it’s the stress”. Living in such a restricted and close proximity to your immediate loved ones in your homes over the next 21 days makes it imperative that we manage and navigate our emotions as there will be times when your patience will be severely challenged.
This is the perfect opportunity to start recognizing patterns or habits that are not serving us well and to start practicing new ones. It takes 21 days to form a new pattern, so we now have the perfect opportunity to start practicing.
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.
If I can support you or your teams in any way, please contact me. We are able to run virtual sessions to help people deal with fear, stress and anxiety as well do virtual EQ Psychometric debriefs, coaching and training sessions. Take care of both your physical and emotional wellbeing.