- Dr. Brian Kleinberg
Feeling Sad, Uncertain and Afraid? Here are 3 Steps to Cope with your Fears and Stress
“Fear makes us feel our humanity.”- Benjamin Disraeli
I read that approximately 4.5 billion people are currently observing one form or another of sheltering in place during this COVID-19 pandemic. That’s a staggering statistic! More than half of humanity is currently engaged in the battle against the coronavirus. By staying at home, you are protecting yourself and everybody else and helping to flatten the curve. The good news is your efforts are making a difference. Many countries are experiencing significant improvement which is allowing the introduction of incremental steps towards restarting economies and a return to some semblance of normal life. It’s a small but important glimmer of hope!
The toll of the pandemic has also been staggering. So many have lost family members and friends to this vicious virus. So many have lost their livelihood and are facing an uncertain future. So many are deemed to be essential workers in the front lines of healthcare, as first responders or supermarket employees and their lives are at risk. For everybody there is one common denominator. Fear. Fear of contracting the virus and becoming extremely sick. Fear of not knowing how to afford the basics of life like food and shelter. Fear that life will not get back to normal anytime soon or maybe ever.
Forbes magazine on April 17, 2020 reports about an Italian artificial intelligence (AI) company that specializes in natural language reading and semantics and is using its AI tech to extract emotions and sentiment from 63,000 English-language social media posts on Twitter every 24 hours. This creates a semantic analysis of people’s feelings during COVID-19. The results of the analysis so far should not be surprising. The primary emotion experienced by people is fear and anxiety. It makes sense. Nothing is normal right now and everybody is feeling varying degrees of anxiety about their situation.
The reality is your feelings of stress and anxiety are what make you human. Think back to the last weeks of February 2020. Most of you were involved in active busy lifestyles at work and at home. You were living your daily life without restrictions and planning future activities with a good sense of certainty. By the middle of March 2020 everything was flipped upside down. Whatever was planned became unplanned. Whatever was certain became uncertain. And at a primal level all of us crave certainty, security and knowing what’s happening in our lives now and what will likely happen in days to come. All of that is off the table right now and so it is natural for all of us to feel humanly frail, exposed and stressed. Here are some vital steps that you need to take to make sure that your coping skills for stress management are allowing you to manage all of this uncertainty:
1) Admit that You’re Human: You exist on a spectrum of emotions from minute to minute and day today. You respond to your internal feelings and external challenges on your own unique emotional scale. You naturally aim for emotional balance. You aren’t always going to be happy and it’s a fallacy to think otherwise. So, if you are having moments of sadness, uncertainty and stress in this moment acknowledge that you are a normal human being. Your feelings reflect the rapid changes and stream of hard news you’ve been absorbing. I’ve spoken to many people lately and nobody’s denied feeling anxious. The good news is you can help yourself regain emotional balance and feel stronger and better.
2) Explore and Strengthen your Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Your emotional components govern the way you react to the world around you. There are 18 signs you have a high EQ but I want to focus on 3 emotional factors that are critical during this pandemic:
· Embrace change: Everything around you may look different right now but the faster you adapt to the changes that have occurred the better you will feel and the stronger you will be at making choices. Adaptability to change is one of the most important survival techniques you need right now to deal with what’s happening in your own personal space and how you will proceed forward into the uncertain future everyone’s facing. Your adaptability can be sharpened by stepping out of your comfort zone. Develop new skills, increase your social connectivity and organize your life in ways that you’ve never done before. Take advantage of the opportunity and this unexpected time will transform you.
· Avoid Negativity: There’s no shortage of negative news and it can drive you down. It’s vital to stay informed for your health and safety. But it’s unhealthy to become saturated with an unending stream of sad tidings. Focus on the positive things in your world right now. Work on deflecting pessimistic comments from pessimistic people. Concentrate on the relationships, achievements and experiences that make you feel whole, acknowledged and vital.
· Appreciate What You Have: One of the strongest emotional muscles you can exercise is the one that counts your blessings. Take stock of all the good things in your life starting with your health if you are fortunately well. Reflect and treasure those who you love and love you back. Life has slowed down, and you have the gift of time. There’s never been a better opportunity to appreciate all the good you’ve accumulated over the years. Create a gratitude journal and make a note in it every day for all that’s good in your life.
3) Get into Better Shape!: A healthy mind depends on a healthy body. If you’re used to going to a gym and exercising regularly you have to alter your routine, but technology can deliver you YouTube videos and even your own personal trainer to help you stay in shape. Cycling, walking, running and gardening are options available now especially as the weather is improving. Outdoor activities can provide excellent physical and mental boosts as long as you are respecting social distancing rules. If you’re not used to a regular fitness routine there’s never been a better time to start. If you’re feeling stiff, sore and fatigued you are probably spending too many hours in front of your computer or your TV. There are no shortage of exercise options but the simplest place to start is a daily walk and 20-minute stretching routine.
There is no exact road-map for how the days and weeks ahead are going to look. Uncertain times like these create a natural sense of anxiety. There’s nothing wrong if you feel stressed by what’s going on. You are reacting in a normal way, just like everybody else. You are a human being and you have natural abilities for survival which are kicking in and helping you navigate through these times. Explore and strengthen your emotional well-being and boost your physical fitness daily. Your healthier mind and body will give you the ability to balance your stress and help you cope with the challenges and fears we are all facing.
If you feel you need health coaching during these difficult times, I am available to assist you. To learn more, please contact me directly at the following link: www.kleinbergcorporatewellness.com/contact