The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on life is unprecedented. It’s natural to feel anxious, after all, we have no previous reference point for this, we don’t know how we should react at this time — and maybe this makes us feel a bit panicked. But keeping your emotions in check is more important than ever right now.
One thing that do I have is some experience in surviving and possibly even thriving in dicey situations.
After a 15-year career in special needs education which abrupt ended with the diagnosis of a brain tumour, subsequent haemorrhage and life-changing surgery, I’ve learned that, in stressful situations, the most dangerous thing you can do is lose control of your emotions, or let your emotions take over your decision-making cycle.
To overcome the impulse to make decisions based on your emotions, for example pulling out of the stock market or panic-buying toilet paper, focus your time and energy on what you can actually control.
You have to learn to surrender the emotional and mental energy on the things that you can’t control and only focus on the things that you can, which is specifically yourself.
You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to what happens to you. Being scared, allowing that to affect the decision-making process for you, is what gets people in considerable trouble.
Think about an archery target. There’s a small circle (the bull’s-eye) and a big circle (the one around the bull’s-eye).
The big circle is your circle of concern and the small circle is your circle of influence. People spend a whole lot of time in the big circle, worrying about things they don’t have control over, like what’s going on in social media or what’s happening in the news.
The only thing that you should spend your time, energy and effort working on are the things directly inside of your circle of influence, which are the things that come out of your mouth, how you behave… the way that you communicate.
“You have to learn to surrender the emotional and mental energy on the things that you can’t control and only focus on the things that you can, which is specifically yourself.”
If you focus on those things, you’re going to get through stressful situations much easier.
That’s easier said than done I know, but there are strategies to quell anxieties during these times and shift your focus away from the circle of concern. Try limiting your exposure to the news and your time on social media, sticking to a routine, practising mindfulness and taking regular exercise.
Try your best to remain as objective as possible. Remember, if you see people freaking out, that doesn’t mean that you need to freak out.
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