Dealing with Fear in a Global Crisis

Fear can be crippling! Fear is also natural, particularly when there are so many unknowns, conflicting messages, and a constant barrage of negative information. How you choose to respond to fear will be the difference between giving fear more power than it deserves, or taking control of your life. If you haven’t heard of the Stockdale Paradox yet, it’s an interesting story. Essentially it talks about having a balance between realism and optimism. If there was ever a time to understand the importance of maintaining balance, now is the time!

I have some suggestions I think will be helpful to minimize the impact of fear, but they are definitely not a compressive list, so comment on what you are doing to prevent fear from taking control.

  • Give yourself permission to have some fear. It’s a natural response and trying to bury it isn’t healthy.
  • Talk about your fears with someone else. There is a good chance just about anyone is feeling something similar.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable talking with someone, write down your fears. Seeing them can help put them into perspective and take away the power they have over you.
  • Limit your social media consumption. A lot of things just aren’t factual, or are old. At this point there is very little you haven’t seen already. This is true of the memes, too. They are just a constant reminder of what we’re going through. We don’t need reminders, we are living it every day.
  • If you can’t limit social media consumption, curate your feeds. For example, in Facebook you can snooze people for 30 days. If someone you know is just posting Coronavirus memes and political opinions, snooze them and see how much it impacts your experience. You can also unfollow someone without unfriending them. This removes them from your feed completely, but without the awkwardness of getting a friend request from them later.
  • Many people will be impacted financially. If you have been trying to payoff debt and have lost income, or are at risk of losing income, it’s time to push the pause button. You need to take care of what Dave Ramsey refers to as the four walls: Food, Shelter, Clothing and Transportation. Once you have these covered, if you have anything left, pay the minimum payments on your debt and pile up cash. If you don’t need to touch the pile, put it towards your debt after things return to normal.
  • Get outside! Many people have transitioned to working from home. While it’s nice to not have to deal with a commute, it’s easy to become isolated. You can still walk, or go for a drive, you just have to keep a safe distance from other people. Going outdoors, even for just a few minutes, a couple of times a day, will have a big impact on your mental health.
  • Develop a routine. You may have had one already, but chances are it has changed a bit. You may not have in-the-car time to listen to a podcast, but if you still get up at the same time, you can listen to the podcast in your home, or on the porch, or while walking around the block. Routine will give you power over fear.
  • Educate yourself. Trust, but verify. Your friends and family have good intentions, but they probably aren’t experts, and like so many people, usually blindly sharing information that hasn’t been verified. Go to a trustworthy source and get facts from multiple sources, just like you would if you were writing a dissertation.
  • Do something for someone else. This will take the focus off of your own concerns, for a time, and put your energy into someone else. You may have an elderly neighbor who needs groceries. See if you can pick something up for them, while you are shopping. The grass won’t stop growing, so mow a neighbor’s yard. Doing something nice for someone else will also lift your spirits.
  • Finally, find a quiet place, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. No one knows when it will pass, but we can still be optimistic it will pass soon.

If you find yourself struggling through your current situation, working with a coach can be very helpful. It may also be necessary to work with a professional counselor. A good coach will refer a client to counseling when it becomes apparent coaching either isn’t right for the client, or the client would benefit from having the additional option. If you are ready to see if coaching is right for you, let’s talk.

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