During this time of great uncertainty, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed, anxious or fearful. My friend David Martin says, “The table is set for people to have extra meltdowns right now as we move into unknown territory, daily bombardment of conflicting news, and the disintegration of our everyday lives as we know it.” I have found six strategies to cope with the fear surrounding us all now. I hope they will help you too.
As the World Worries
Like many of us, my emotions seem to be on a roller coaster multiple times every day. I worry about my family. It’s very hard for me to not have everyone under the same roof and know they are completely safe. My daughter is in the nursing field and on the front lines daily. I worry about her. A lot. I wonder how long my parents can manage well enough in their life care facility as they continue to distance themselves from others physically and socially. I worry about them as they are in the “most at risk” category. I ‘m concerned about all the people I know who are now out of work, their businesses closed or on hold until who knows when. My worry list goes on and on ad infinitum. Logically, I know worry doesn’t help change anything and only makes me feel worse. Sometimes I just can’t seem to help myself. Sigh.
On the work front, I am lucky to have an established virtual leadership development business. But like many of us, I have had to reschedule a number of programs and coaching as people struggle to just manage themselves, their teams and their businesses daily. People and companies are desperately trying to hold on as the world shifts precariously as so many things seem to be changing daily, maybe forever. All in all, I know my experience is so insignificant compared to what many people are facing all over the world. My heart and prayers go out to everyone who is deeply suffering and challenged.
These are truly unprecedented extraordinary times and it’s hard to know exactly what to do or how to be.
Extreme Support During Times of Chaos
If there ever was a time to support each other, it is now! Helping each other in small and big ways, even if we cannot be together physically, is of paramount importance. I noticed many companies and entrepreneurs have started offering free personal and professional health and well-being courses, programs, meditations, and classes. Me included – my program is on April 30th, is called Navigating During Times of Disruption.
We, as humans, are designed to take care of each other especially during major challenging times.
If you are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety, it’s important not to just hope your negative feelings will go away. Hope is not a strategy. Taking some specific and focused action steps will truly make you feel better and might even help to build up your immune system, which is a really good thing.
Below are some strategies and resources I have gathered and am using myself to support my physical, mental and emotional well-being. Select one or all of them. They will help you to more strongly reduce your stress and build more resilience in order to manage better and possibly thrive during this horrible time.
Strategies and Resources
#1 Revisit your old journals, notes, and books.
Notice how far you’ve come as you read and remember your previous reflections. Reinforce previous learnings in your notes and books. Remember what things you were committed to and see if these things are either still relevant to you now or could inform a new future direction. Read my newly revised book,Your Next Bold Move (2019), to start to position yourself for what follows. Take time to do all the exercises, as they will propel you forward faster than you can do by yourself.
#2 Do a digital cleanse.
Pick a time each day to consciously stay off your phone, computer and TV. I am not watching or reading the news before going to bed as it gives me bad dreams and I don’t seem to be sleeping as well as I had before all this started. Post less often on social media unless it’s encouraging, funny or healing messages. I have to say, I am loving the social media ‘love and support fest’ and the noticeable shift away from all the aggressive political posturing and bashing. In spite of free speech and all that, the endless political vitriol has broken my heart into pieces and has done little to change my viewpoints but instead has done damage to relationships and caused hurt feelings (and worse) with those I love and care about.
#3 Pick your reading material consciously and carefully.
I had to put down an Oprah book club and New York Times bestseller book because it was so full of violence and hatred towards others. Books that contain personal tragedies or violence is making me feel more fragile, so I’ve chosen instead to only read uplifting and empowering books at this time. Everything we surround ourselves with either supports our spirit and immune system or it doesn’t. Choose carefully. Here is an article I recently read that raised my spirits and gave me some positive actions to take.
#4 Connect in place.
Being a social person, I’m feeling a lack of connection as I’m alone most of the time in my house either working at my desk or hanging with my husband. Many of us are in the same situation if we’re sheltering in place and practicing physical distancing from each other. Here are some things I am doing to combat my feeling of isolation and lack of social interaction.
- Every day, I reach out to a couple of people just to ask them how they are doing and touch base. My preference is to pick up the phone or video chat versus texting or email.
- My family has a scheduled Zoom call every Sunday night for an hour. Just seeing them makes me feel a little bit happier.
- My girlfriends (8 of us) have a regularly scheduled video conferencing call Saturday mornings so we can be together for a bit and share our concerns and survival tips.
- My Thursday bridge group is now playing bridge together virtually on Thursday nights instead of playing in person.
- Our neighborhood has instituted a daily 3:30 PM walking group for anyone who wants to come. Of course, keeping the recommended 6 feet apart.
I have a feeling I have just scratched the surface with ideas to support myself in this new world. What is one thing you could do or add to your list?
#5 Use the time consciously.
My neighbor Ruth started taking virtual Italian lessons with a tutor in Italy. My mother is cleaning out closets and drawers she has been meaning to get to. My friend Lois has started painting again. Personally, I find myself writing more and designing remote leadership development programs to help others. What can you do that keeps you productive, learning, and mostly off social media and Netflix throughout your day.
#6 Institute more healthy practices.
Healthy practices keep our bodies strong and resilient. Personally, I am focused on doing what I can to keep my immune system strong. Towards that end, every day I am meditating in the morning for 20 minutes. I’ve been using meditations with Deepak Chopra and Oprah alternating between two 21-Day Meditation Experiences, Hope in Uncertain Times and Perfect Health. I am taking extra vitamin C. I am consciously eating more fresh greens. My husband and I set up a little home gym area. I started Youtube Tai Chi and Qi Gong beginner online classes. After just a few weeks, here are my two favorites, Tai Chi for Beginners: Module 1 and Qi Gong for beginners. What are some healthy practices you could add to your life, especially now?
The Opening of Opportunity
Amidst my anxiousness, I can also feel a small spark of a new world full of new possibilities opening up. This new world will be full of unprecedented opportunities we cannot know or now imagine. This new time in our lives is an opportunity to develop skills and ways of being focused on who we wish to become not who we have been. It’s like the great ice hockey player Wayne Gretsky once said when asked his secret to success, “I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” So, choose carefully and position yourself to where you want to go next, because when this is all over and behind us, we will all emerge in a new world.
We are all creating ourselves anew through this journey into the unknown. This will be a time of great transformation. What will you do now to set the foundation for who you will become?
Act purposefully. Be intentional. We’re here to help.