As I write this post, the impact of Coronavirus is growing by the minute, hour, and day. Globally, the total confirmed cases is nearing one million, with the U.S. representing 23% of those. Additionally, just this morning, it was announced that in the past week in the U.S., 6.6 million people filed for unemployment—that’s on top of the 3.3 million who filed the week before. As one financial expert put it, “these are deep recession numbers.” And, the worst is yet to come because we haven’t reached the peak of the curve according to the statistical models. The bottom line is that it’s grim out there, and the nation is starting to feel it in so many ways.
Last week, I talked about the need to nurture our psychological health in the face of this daily onslaught of bad news. This week let’s talk about what to do when you, family, friends, or colleagues feel stressed, sad, scared, or just plain blah. I’ve seen several episodes of this recently—co-workers squabbling, people fighting on social networks, and others stuck in the doldrums of malaise from having to stay home. Even if you’re doing all the right things to try to stay positive, chances are you’re still having bad moments or days.
So, what can you do? What can we all do when we feel like this?
First, realize it is normal, you are not alone, and allow yourself to feel it. Yes, I know we’re positive leaders, but as I’ve always said, that doesn’t mean we’re slapping smiles on faces no matter what. In fact, trying to do that right now if you don’t feel it would be really unhealthy. Instead, just acknowledge what you’re feeling. Sit with it. Let it be there and just breathe.
Second, exercise some compassion—both for yourself and those around you. It’s no surprise that people are arguing, losing tempers, or unable to focus right now. Everyone is frustrated. We’re all dealing with disappointment, worry, and loss right now. The reasons for your frustration might be different than those of your loved ones, colleagues, or essential workers risking their lives every day. But that doesn’t change the fact that everyone is dealing with issues. So, before you take that frustration out on someone in your life, pause for a moment and walk the proverbial mile in their shoes. Realize that we all need some grace and compassion right now, and we all need to extend grace and compassion to others.
Third, and this helps with the first two points…engage in mindfulness. Mindfulness simply means being present, being aware of what’s going on within you, and around you moment-by-moment. When we’re mindful, we can realize that anger is bubbling up inside or grief is sweeping over our body, and instead of reacting to these emotions or feeling overwhelmed by them, we can calmly accept and acknowledge them. There are different ways to practice mindfulness—such as walking, body scans, or meditation—and they’re all associated with a reduction in stress and emotional reactivity…exactly what we all need right now.
So, as a positive leader, yes, there are several things you can do to stay positive and encourage positivity in your team—you can read about them here and here. But the reality is that the ongoing weight of this pandemic is taking its toll, and we also need coping strategies to manage those days when it all just feels too much. Being okay with not being okay, exercising compassion, and being mindful are a few strategies that can help.
We are all in this together, and if we support one another, we’ll all emerge better and stronger than ever before.
If you’ve got questions or you just want to share what you’re doing to cope with difficult emotions, drop me a line at [email protected] – I always love to hear from you. Also, if you want more on mindfulness, compassion, and other strategies that can help foster well-being, just click here to download my book for free.