With news about the Coronavirus spreading rampantly, the stock market’s roller coaster ride that has your head spinning, and empty store shelves that make you hanker for hand sanitizers and a sense of sanity, how do you “keep calm and carry on,” as the Brits say.
First, it’s important to remember that stressful situations come and go. What’s important is not to get caught up in the panicked frenzy. The more you read about negative news, the easier it is to let fear of the unknown grip you. Besides, feeling anxious and fearful causes long-term stress and has consequences on your physical and mental health.
Practice these five simple ways to overcome the fear factor and help you reframe your mindset and stay calm.
Get The Facts Not The Fear
In today’s all-pervasive social media world, it’s easy to get caught up in misinformation and rumor-mongering. Instead, rely on sources that you can trust. If it’s a health crisis that scares you, rely on a medical expert to provide sound advice or a health authority like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC rather than social media.
Focus on What’s Important
It’s easy to focus on the “what ifs?” and imagine the worst possible scenarios. Psychotherapist Nancy Colier says, “When the future feels profoundly uncertain, we react by filling in the uncertainty with negative certainties … what-if scenarios and potential disasters. But we can control this mental habit, by bringing our attention back to the present moment and acknowledge that, in this moment, we are OK, our survival is not at risk.” Focus on what matters right now – your kids, your family, the amazing work you do, the impact you have on people, etc.
Manage your Emotions
Psychologists suggest acknowledging how you feel. It’s OK to tell yourself that you’re feeling fear or anxiety, or you’re terrified of what might happen. Once you label your emotion find ways to reframe the threat by visualizing a different outcome and focusing on the positive. Taking a few deep breaths and journaling your thoughts are other ways to help manage your emotions.
During stressful times, it’s important to create a ritual that helps you manage the fear and anxiety that arrive as unwanted guests. When you make self-care a priority, you’re better handled to deal with stressful situations. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep are all key to staying calm. Exercise lowers the level of stress hormones and helps the body function at its highest level. By practicing self-care, you’ll also develop better emotional intelligence, which is an important characteristic that will help you respond well to an emergency.
Activate Your Support System
In stressful times, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s a trusted friend or mentor or a family member, speaking to someone whom you can rely on for sage advice is a good thing. Someone who isn’t emotionally invested in the situation will be able to see the issue from a different perspective and can work with you to come up with a solution. This also helps you feel more grounded and thus helps manage your stress. If your situation is more long-term and you don’t have a strong support system, a qualified professional will be able to help.