How To Deal With Fear During Crisis – 3 Practical Tips
Photo credit: Max Baskakov on Unsplash
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To Manage Fear We Need To Understand It
We are all being hit by the Coronavirus crisis and there’s a lot of fear in the world right now. But as leaders, we can’t lead from a place of fear. Instead, we need to learn how to deal with fear so we can lead our families, business, workplaces and communities well.
That’s not to say we are fearless… because anyone who isn’t dealing with some amount of fear or concerns isn’t paying attention to what’s happening!
So what is fear? The dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger.”
Now, we can learn a few things from this definition:
First, fear is an emotion — it’s a strong emotion, but it’s still an emotion. And we can manage emotions so we need to acknowledge it.
Remember that emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are.
Second, fear is caused by the expectation or awareness of danger. Sometimes our F.E.A.R. is based on False Evidence Appearing Real… in other words, the false stories we create in our heads. But in the case of the coronavirus, there are many real fears. So I don’t want to minimize the reality of what’s happening.
We are in a crisis. Things are difficult. And nobody knows how long this is going to last.
So, during a crisis, how then do we deal with fear?
Recognize The Difference Between Helpful Fear vs. Debilitating Fear
My husband and I were holidaying in Mexico when things changed overnight in Canada and the Prime Minister called all Canadians to come home. We moved our flight up so we could fly home as soon as possible but while we waited, we had to deal with the reality of the fear of COVID-19 at the resort.
There were a lot of Europeans visiting the resort and the Coronavirus had already spread rapidly through Europe. To make matters worse, the resort wasn’t taking the precautions it should to protect the guests.
There was a point when we were walking on the beach and I felt flooded with fear. It was paralyzing. What if we got stuck on the resort and couldn’t return home?
Instead of hiding from that question, Melis and I talked about what we would do if we got stuck at the resort. Immediately, my brain switched into leadership gear and we talked about how we could gather the leaders of the resort and listen to their concerns (that’s what a good coach does)- learn from them. Put our minds together (because many minds are better than one) and then serve them to help us all through this crisis.
The fear dissipated as I focused on actions we could take and how we could serve others.
And I learned an important lesson in this. Some fear is debilitating and it stops us from acting and doing the things we need to do to protect the people around us and ourselves. But other fear is helpful when we can manage our emotions and take steps to protect ourselves.
Photo credit: Allen Taylor on Unsplash
3 Steps To Dealing With Your Fear
Now, let’s get really practical. Here are three really simple steps you can take to deal with your fear.
#1 – EDUCATE YOURSELF
The first responsibility of a leader, according to Max de Pree, is to define reality. Whether you have a family, friends, co-workers, church community or business, you have influence with them. That means that you need to define the reality for the people you have influence with.
This means you can’t go quiet or hide out. You need to show up for your people. A key thing that will help you to define reality is to educate yourself with what’s happening by going to reliable sources, such as the Situation reports from the World Health Organization, John Hopkins Medicine or your local health organization.
#2 – MANAGE YOUR MINDSET
There are a lot of things we can’t control right now. We can’t control the Coronavirus. That’s a fact. Focus on what you CAN control and one of the most important things you can control right now is your mindset. Choose a positive mindset instead of focusing on feeding your fear.
Here are a few suggestions of what to focus on to manage your mindset:
- Think about someone you can help and reach out. Maybe it’s a phone call to a shut-in. Maybe it’s a text or email. Maybe it’s creating a funny video to brighten somebody’s day.
- Create fun family memories at home.
- Use this time to invest in your personal growth. Set goals for yourself of books to read, healthy food to eat, how you want to grow your faith, how you’ll add value to others, etc.
#3 – FEED YOUR MIND WITH POSITIVITY
My daughter, Hannah, was supposed to fly back to Canada right as the Coronavirus cases started to increase. So she was checking the news almost hourly to see what was happening so she could decide whether to stay put or fly back. But checking the news that often took a toll on her and now she’s decided to limit her news intake to once or twice a day at the most.
Instead, she’s starting her day with encouraging messages to make sure she’s intentional about the mindset she’s setting for the day.
So I want to encourage you to be intentional about what you’re putting into your mind.
What’s helping you to manage your fear during this crisis? Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can encourage each other!
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