We can easily let fear derail us from doing things that matter. Learning how to distinguish what that fear is, how much control over it we have, and what role our own mind plays in it all is vital.
Right now, the Coronavirus is dominating the news cycle. Who would think something so small could upstage everything else? And yet, it’s the mystery of it, the unknown, that catapults it onto the stage of human focus and imagination.
And for those who are immediately affected, it is not imagination. It is reality, and a potentially fatal one at that.
This is no two-bit player. Indeed, some of the most potent forces are smaller than a pinhead.
And then, those microscopic actors do something else to all of us. They infect the mind much more than they are likely to affect the body of the majority of people.
For once the mind is affected, human beings can become obsessed and worried. And this clouds thinking and sound judgment.
We must develop empathy for those directly affected, and those on the front lines of fighting this virus. And personally, we must take responsibility and be wise. Stay put, shelter-in-place as much as possible, avoid being around anyone and please, please – if you are 70 or older or have relevant health issues – remain at home and seek out others who are younger and/or without health issues and let them help you. This is part of our responsibility – to ourselves, to our communities, to our country and to the world!
Strategies for facing scary major events
There are strategies to deal with your own mind and response when events like these occur. Here are five ideas I have learned over the years, specifically relating to our interaction with people from all backgrounds and our experiences traveling/living abroad:
1 | Learn the facts of what’s going on. But try to keep your consumption of news brief and limited to reliable sources. Be savvy about political manipulation. Go for the facts as much as possible. Of course, when events are unfolding, facts are fluid. Still, avoid obsession and limit your time.
2 | Step back. Once you know the basic facts (perhaps daily or every other day), step back and ask yourself, “How does this impact me?” Be honest with yourself. In the case of the Coronavirus, are you directly in an infected area? If so, how will you change your behavior? If not, then do not spend too much time on it. Focus instead on living your life, with prudent behavior (i.e., wash hands and use hand sanitizer, especially after being in public places).
3 | Be intentional about your own peace of mind. Major events, whether they be terrorist attacks or Coronavirus outbreaks, have the potential to trigger fear in us. But fight back against this. You own your mind. This is something you can master, not something you let master you. This may go without saying…but reality is, we struggle here.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to eat the junk food of the news media, including – and especially – what dominates our social media feeds. And then we get sick. When you see whatever the issue is dominating your news feed, understand this: You can choose to close that app, remove the notifications and even take it off your phone. Yes, this is in your power.
Do what you can to chase after peace of mind, particularly when it comes to situations outside of your control. This is key. Understand where your influence lies, and where it stops. If the thing you’re obsessed about is outside your circle of influence, choose to let it go.
4 | Refocus your attention. If you feel yourself sucked into the hype of whatever is stealing that joy, recognize it and be deliberate in refocusing your attention. Cultivate it. You might do this through your work, or through a prayer or meditation practice. Maybe it’s through exercise (competitive or not), or art classes. Perhaps gardening, music or a good movie. And getting together with friends (and talking about lighter, more positive things) can be especially healthy.
5 | Find a way to constructively help. Once you’ve pushed out all that emotion, think about how you can contribute to a solution. Your “help” may simply be prayer. But it can also be do-ing something. One idea might be to help others learn about what’s really going on. Or to help others learn to process events like these (as in the principles I’m sharing here). If you use social media, whatever you post related to the incident, make sure it is factual and helpful. Don’t post junk! This is not constructive and only leads to further confusion.
Finally, in terms of constructive help, it may not be related directly to the current event, but rather, might be just doing something in your community to help with a problem you’ve noticed. Channeling energy into positive action always helps people deal with the hard stuff we cannot control.
What will you choose to do today to overcome your fear about Coronavirus?
Copyright 2020 ©YourGlobalFamily. All rights reserved. Used with permission here.
Caroline has created YourGlobalFamily.com to help parents raise globally minded and hearted kids. With the Coronavirus pandemic, Caroline is building GlobalCafé.Live, a new online café for people all over the world to come together and share their experiences on relevant topics face-to-face. For more information, contact Caroline here.
Caroline and her husband Dale created YourGlobalFamily to mentor parents to raise globally minded and hearted kids. Caroline is also the founder of GlobalCafé.Live, providing opportunities for people from around the world to connect live during the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Venmo: @carolinedp