“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
President Roosevelt spoke these words at his first inaugural address, at a time when the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. They ring as true today as they did back then.
Following are some thoughts and suggestions I would like to share with the hope of providing some helpful insight and calm in the eye of the storm.
We are all feeling anxious & stressed. These feelings are normal and to be expected when faced with the uncertainty of our current dilemma with the coronavirus pandemic. How to test for it? How to contain it? How to treat it? And many many more unanswered questions.
Along with the daunting health challenges and ramifications, we cannot overestimate the havoc the coronavirus situation is playing on our economic and financial well-being.
Life as we know it is changed – forever.
Now here’s the good news. We are NOT facing Armageddon. Armageddon does not allow for lights, heat, and access to the Internet, zoom meetings, etc. We really have to resist the temptation of thinking – and acting like the end is here. This type of thinking is not helping – it really is not. Please remember that pervasive anxiety will make you sick too!
Here is a very succinct (grossly over-simplified) psychological perspective of what is going on.
We are all feeling anxiety. Anxiety left unchecked turns to F.E.A.R. Think of fear as standing for:
A-Appearing (or Accepted as)
This Fear quickly devolves into PANIC. The hoarding we are witnessing is a symptom of PANIC.
People go to the store and can’t find the basic foods and supplies they need – not because they are in short supply but because 5 people came into the store before them and each person bought a year’s supply of toilet paper and frozen vegetables. We see an entire aisle empty – no toilet paper, no hand wipes, no Lysol, no milk, no bread and your anxiety goes right through the roof. This anxiety rapidly turns to fear that quickly creates panic.
And the vicious cycle continues!
Following are 7 Tools on how to best stop the anxiety surrounding the spread of fear and panic related to the coronavirus.
Control what you can control. Yes, there are many things you cannot control however look for the things you can.
The MOST important thing you can control is your ATTITUDE & MINDSET. Are you thinking about the coronavirus as the end of the world? Or are you thinking about the coronavirus as quite the challenge that you are willing to take on?
Limit your exposure to media coverage to reliable sources only, such as the CDC. While it is important to stay informed and up to date, you do not need to be plugged in 24/7 to every TV, radio, podcast, newspaper, FB post, blog, etc., that has something to say on the topic.
Too much information will leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious (and exhausted -because anxiety is exhausting)!
Remember – the media thrives on bad news – and anxiety and fear sells.
Your attitude about the current situation will determine your choices and course of action. Choose wisely- for yourself, your family and your colleagues.
Look for the OPPORTUNITY. There is always a silver lining – however you need to be willing – and able to look for it. It won’t just appear. When life gives you lemons – make lemonade.
Did you know that three years after the outbreak of the bubonic plague in Algeria, Albert Camus wrote “The Plague”? Literary scholars believe Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays during the plague in London. Isaac Newton is believed to have formulated some of his greatest theories that laid the foundation for a revolutionary understanding of how the world turns, literally and figuratively following the Great Fire of London.
This is an entrepreneurial moment if I’ve ever seen one!
Of course for the less ambitious crowd like myself, maybe you can finally clean out that kitchen drawer or closet you’ve been meaning to get around to since the dawn of time! J
Breathe Deeply. Full Stop!
Re-Connect with the important people in your life. Most of us can relate to (including our children) being way over-scheduled, running from one meeting (or call) to the next, rushing to work after dropping off the kids and then rushing to pick them up, etc.
Now is a perfect time to take the time to strengthen the important relationships in your life that your previous world order forced you to neglect. Be truly present with your partner and children – give them your full, undivided attention. Pick up the phone – don’t text – literally pick up the phone and call an old college buddy or family member you’ve been meaning to call for way too long – but never had the time. Do it!
Re-Connect with Yourself. In our pre-coronavirus world, many of us were so immersed in so many different activities that we became dis-connected from ourselves.
We never seemed to find the time to do anything for ourselves. We were sleep deprived and exercise deprived. The only food we ate was, well, not exactly the picture of health. We couldn’t find the time to read that book(s) or listen to that podcast we know we would enjoy.
As we re-set, as the new world order that has been thrust upon us takes shape
Maybe now – we can find a way.
We can find a way to create a positive attitude and mindset.
We can find a way to take better care of ourselves.
We can find a way for creativity.
We can find a way to authentically strengthen our neglected relationships.
We can find a way to re-connect with ourselves.
We can find a way to start genuinely living – again.
Be strong. Be kind. Be authentic. Be grateful. Be Courageous.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Note: Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, people whom I’ve coached and consulted with have asked me to share some advice and insights I may have regarding how to deal with the stress and anxiety of our current crisis. I hesitated for several reasons, including the fact that people are flooded with so much information, some accurate and some not so accurate. I was concerned my additional information might add to their sense of overwhelmed. Having said that, I have decided to share some insights because the requests have been so sincere and consistent that it was starting to feel irresponsible for me to withhold my knowledge – rooted in my education and work as a clinical psychologist, coach and consultant.
Dr. Patty Ann Tublin
The Place For Relationship Tools For Success In Business and Life,