Every day we are bombarded with news concerning the coronavirus, and our emotions get triggered. Fear, anxiety and concern jolt through our brains. What is true?
- We can’t control the virus.
- We can’t control the media’s constant promotion of disaster.
- We Can Control How We Choose to Respond.
I agree that there is real concern, especially for those with weak or vulnerable immune systems, such as the elderly, chronically ill people or our infants. The loss of any one is devastating. Yet, when we compare the loss of life due to the flu each year, so far deaths due to the coronavirus are just a fraction of that amount.
What is Propelling the Truth…or…Uncertainty?
The fear of the unknown triggers our emotions, whether it’s the coronavirus or a personal issue. We are wired for survival, which means we are equipped with a “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction to a threat. Even if this threat is merely a perceived threat, our thalamus sends a direct message quickly and efficiently to the amygdala at the base of the brain, which releases neurohormones in our brain.
In an effort to get ready for the fight, flight, or freeze response to that perceived threat, “our long-term immunity shuts down, our higher order creative thinking shuts down, our digestive system shuts down and more. In this way, all our efforts are going to fight, hide or run away from the threat.” (Joshua Freedman)
Added to this is that we often have already developed the mindset that has us focusing on what will go wrong versus what will go right when we are faced with a challenge, the unknown, or change. With our brain in gear for facing a threat, coupled with a “fear” mindset, you can perhaps see how challenging it can be to deal with challenging times.
How Can We Pivot Our Mindset in Times of a Crisis?
- Evaluate the Facts, Think Critically and Gain Perspective:
Anxiety and fear perpetuate our rumination of what can go wrong, and our emotions are contagious. Fear ripples out to influence and create fear in others. So, take a moment to pause and become an objective investigator. Refrain from believing everything the media reports. Look at other media sources that offer a different perspective. Weigh all that information and decide what you are going to believe.
Also, take note of potential bias your source may have. Certain organizations and companies may heighten the fear about the coronavirus and only give you statistics that back up their bias, as opposed to also offering statistics that counter their bias. For example, companies selling disinfectant products most likely have a bias promoting fear (and generating mass hysteria) about the coronavirus because they stand to profit from people buying their products.
- Tap into Optimism:
What we fear usually never happens. One acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. What are you buying into as true with respect to your emotions? Gain clarity by gathering information, data and research from a variety of sources and not just one perspective.
Check in with your awareness or intuition to separate the truth from the fear, anxiety or concern. This involves stepping back and looking at the issue more objectively. Ask yourself: Am I automatically, thoughtlessly, jumping on the pandemic band wagon? Or am I remaining objective and making good decisions about how I will handle the situation?
When you can think of ways to respond with greater intention, clarity, and solid strategies, you will feel a sense of control and hope. This optimism contributes to fueling you to move forward, not paralyzed with fear.
External sources, such as the Internet, social media, and the news, are often not reliable sources for different, or thoughtful, perspectives about the statistics. It is up to us to ask questions about the data, the demographics, location, presentation, or how a research study is conducted. For example, with the coronavirus, many of the deaths were of people in their 80’s or those whose health were already compromised. While any one death is tragic, it is important that we don’t blindly buy into the fear.
- Manage Your Emotions:
We can’t control a thought when it initially pops into our minds. What we can do is control how we reframe that thought so it doesn’t trigger lasting unpleasant emotions. We can control how we respond, versus react impulsively, to that thought. Will you allow catastrophic thoughts which elicit fear and anxiety? Or will you choose to reflect upon options and be more intentional about what is in your control? In other words, will you allow yourself to be consumed and stopped by the pandemic, or will you strategize to propel forward in growth in times of crisis? You get to choose.
To summarize: Take precautions with the coronavirus as you see fit, which will give you a sense of control. Stay informed by listening to multiple perspectives of the pandemic and look more closely at the statistics. Then, rest assured that your decisions are based upon quality data, objectivity, self-awareness, and an intentional mindset.
(Credits to Steve Goodner, President of GSCFIT and Preferred Partner with Six Seconds)