Fear is about the future. It’s what we anticipate will go wrong, what might come, thoughts about how everything will turn to shit. Today I saw a man pull his sleeves over his hands to pat a dog, even though there is no evidence that any animals might be a source of COVID-19 infection.
The weird thing about anxiety and fear is that even though you may (cognitively) know your worries are irrational they completely feel like the truth. Our brains are wired to overweight bad news, and our decision making processes are short-circuited when we worry, or are rushed or feel stressed.
Sadly there is no mental switch to turn off worry, fear or anxiety - which has made drug companies billions, and might explain why alcohol or other self-calming medicants have been with us throughout our evolutionary history.
For those who want calm in less expensive or damaging ways than mild intoxicants, alcohol or prescription medications, here are a few evidence based techniques that I've found work to reassure myself that I'm unlikely to be the 1 person in 100 who will die from Covid-19.
You do you, but here's what does it for me.
In the USA you are more likely to die from legal execution than be killed in a shark attack.
Covid-19 may make you sick, but statistically speaking whoever reads this will still be here come 2021. The good news is that right now, across the world, 7.5 billion people did not die from covid-19 (that's 99% of us).
Limit media intake
Just. Stop. Watching. The. Machine.
The feeling of needing to stay current creates a checking habit - just like an obsessive compulsive disorder. By all means stay up to date - but restrict yourself to one dose per day. Knowing the death toll in a place not your own accelerates fear but is irrelevant (even though it feels critical). Limiting your daily dose of dire detail will help you feel better.
Be grateful for everything, if you are above ground
Gratitude, as my friend Gaynor Parkin points out, has an extraordinary effect on wellbeing. And after all, if you are reading this, at least you are breathing, sentient, curious and hopeful. What joy! Anything this side of the grave is upside.
Watch the sky. Paint. Work. Talk. Walk. Garden. Call your friends. Kiss your dog. Love your children. Have sex. Choose life.
You can find more Leadership Resources that we've put together to help you through the Covid-19 pandemic here
Photo credit: Hendrik Paul: http://www.hendrikpaul.com/blog/2014/11/4/art-and-fear