Surviving the Emotional Roller Coaster
Executive coach Liz Bentley on how to keep a positive mindset during these unsettling times.
The coronavirus is causing great change in our country and the world. It is pushing us to see our lives and businesses differently and forcing us to create change. As we evolve and shift, we will find that some of this change will make us better and stronger. However, during these unsettling days in the midst of this crisis, we are experiencing a wide range of emotions that are pushing us to rise in some moments and shutting us down in others.
We all need a survival guide to adjust to our new lives. To start, let’s review the range of mindsets and emotions we are seeing in people.
Calm: “We are OK.”
In the calm mindset, we think this is all going to work itself out. We are just going through a temporary shift that we need to adjust to. This will not last forever, and has benefits that we can take advantage of during this time. The calm mindset also tries to create calm for others who are feeling anxious and stressed.
Adventurous: “We’ve got this.”
In this mindset, we are ready to rise to the challenge. Working from home and social distancing have benefits. We are ready to take advantage of our new life at home. It’s time to clean out the closets, reorganize our house, paint a room, and make the fixes we have been putting off. We are also enjoying time with our family that used to run us ragged while trying to fit it all in.
Depressed: “This is bad.”
In this mindset, we feel sad and overwhelmed. We almost want to crawl back into bed and watch Netflix instead of getting to work. We feel stalled out and distracted. We are not sure what to do next; instead of tackling all of the things we should get done, we do nothing and waste time.
Freaked out: “We’re all screwed.”
In this mindset, we think this is the end of the world. We run through all the disasters in our mind, from the businesses that will fail to the hospitals that will be overwhelmed. We can’t possibly see an outcome that will work or make anything better. We are overcome with fear and panic, and we feel real pain in our bodies—headaches, back pain, and so on.
I see my clients and friends running the gamut of these mindsets, and sometimes they can swing from one to another within the course of a day. I also see the influence our mindsets are having on each other. For example, you could be in a calm mindset and then after talking with someone who is freaked out, your own anxiety increases and you shift toward that state.
In times like these, it can be really hard to stay calm and continue moving forward because the future is so uncertain. But the reality is, there is so much out of our control that we have to work with what is within our control, which is our mindset. Your mindset dictates everything, so how you manage it is more critical now than ever. Here’s how you do it:
Stay in motion.
Doing things makes you feel better. So keep accomplishing projects and tasks, whatever they might be. Just stay productive! Do your work, clean your home, do the things you never had time for. Use this time to make progress in areas of your life that are important to you.
Go for walks and runs.
Get out into the fresh air and be with nature in whatever way you can be. You can’t stay inside your house nonstop.
Create a daily routine.
While your routine may be different, since you no longer need to commute to work or get your children up for school, you should still create a new flow to your day that is healthy. Get up at a reasonable hour and do your regular or adapted morning routine to get your day going. Don’t hang out in PJs all day just because you can.
The mind is happiest when we are creative, and we all have the creative gene. This is the time for writing, painting, drawing, reading, and using your creative brain. Go on a creative adventure and uncover new thinking. Opening your mind to your creative side will also allow you to see your business differently and provide a window into new possibilities.
If you are home alone, play games virtually with friends and family or find interactive games online. If you are home with family, get out board games or come up with your own games and fun activities. This is also a great time for a scavenger hunt, especially if you've got kids home. You want to keep your mind focused and sharp.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you still need to connect with people. Make dates to go for walks with people at a distance, or schedule a phone call to connect with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Video chat with your loved ones and stay connected to everyone’s lives.
Stop talking about the virus 24/7.
While it’s important to stay up to date on the news, turn it off for periods of time throughout the day, and use this time to talk and think about something else. This will help you manage your anxiety as you control the information flow.
While no one truly knows what the future holds, we do know we can control the present. By living in the moment and doing it well, we will have the ability to create a better future no matter the circumstance. Be safe and go forward wholeheartedly by drawing upon the values that matter most to you.