In turbulent times like these, with a global pandemic that creates fear, anxiety, sadness, uncertainty and doubt, it’s reasonable that leaders may be finding it difficult to balance their emotions and remain open to others. I’m struggling with the barrage of information about spiraling death rates, and how to remain safe, that elevates my anxiety. When everything seems to be out of control, and our physical safety is compromised, we can manage our negative emotions by living life in small moments. The coping skills of zeroing in on the many moments in our days that are alright and going well, can change our perspective from overwhelmed to simmering to relaxed.
The Covid-19 virus landed in Washington state in February this year. Two months later, with thousands of positive cases, hundreds of deaths and stay at home requirements, we’ve been riding on an emotional roller coaster and anticipating it might be a while before we can get off.
There are no human beings on this planet that have not been affected by this extremely contagious virus. I have deep empathy for those who’ve lost loved ones and who have been unable to console or say goodbye to them. It’s impossible to understand the shortages of safety equipment, masks, ventilators and tests for first responders putting their lives on the line every day. There are fear and anxiety driven behaviors such as food hording, price gouging, cheating people out of federal relief checks and loads of internet scams that prey on people. We’re all wondering if there will be a new normal on the other side of this.
I’m taking my own advise at this time to focus moment to moment each day while practicing extreme self-care (ESC); sleeping well, exercising, eating healthy foods (with some guilty pleasures like ice cream and chocolate); calming the immune system by meditating, whatever will settle my mind and bring awareness to my reactivity to so many factors beyond my control.
In turbulent times it’s best to live our lives in consumable bites – day by day and moment to moment.
For leaders, practicing self-care feels like the last thing to do in the long list of mounting personal and business pressures. However, ESC with doses of self-compassion, grace and courage are now required more than ever, to help others in need of extra support. It’s a humbling act to observe and understand ourselves in these times of great uncertainty, to allow our emotions in fully, without minimizing, rationalizing, fixing or numbing them.
Leaders must extend their awareness beyond themselves, knowing that heightened negative emotions can spread to others quickly, so managing them well, and having good coping strategies saves everyone from taking a ride on the stress bus. With greater presence and a practice of appreciation, we’re more able to be intentional about our next actions and words, to be as authentic and balanced as possible. Appreciation moment to moment may include thinking about what is good in our lives, taking walks in nature, smelling everything new in the Spring air, being grateful for you own health and that of our family members as well.
By making a choice every day to pay attention to and contribute to the many acts of kindness in our communities, to thank the many selfless health and essential workers and to support local food banks, will take us out of our own revelry to see the bigger picture around us. Living our best lives in times like these comes with a steep learning curve, however, with great uncertainty, we can choose to take it all in one moment at a time.