Manage Mindfully Through Pandemic

Much as I hate to admit it, I cannot stop thinking or talking about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  It feels all-consuming and terrifying and filthy and confusing and surreal.  So many of us are contending with a variety of emotions and anxieties that we’ve never experienced before.  It’s maddening.

This morning, my pal, Jon McGraw, co-founder of Vision Pursue, an organization that seeks to dramatically improve the way people experience life by improving their mindset, published the piece that follows.  It gave me some comfort – I hope it helps you to embrace a “Performance Mindset” and helps you through this unusual time. 

With appreciation to Jon for his generosity and clear-sightedness, here is Vision Pursue’s advice for managing through the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Expect the Expected: The landscape is changing, and our expectations need to keep up. Here’s what we can expect in the short term:

  • Concern about ourselves and our loved ones.
  • Disruption at work.
  • Financial pressure from stress on our employers, the stock market, and the economy.
  • Difficulty in getting certain goods and services.
  • Disruption of the lives of our loved ones that will also impact us.
  • Uncertainty about what’s going to happen.
  • Emotions of anxiety in ourselves and the people around us.

While not pleasant, these are realistic expectations for most of us. However, we can also expect that this will all work out. We have a strong country, economic base, and healthcare system. 

2. SEE:  Separate, Embrace, Evaluate

  • Separate:  If you’re feeling emotions, know it’s your brain projecting chemicals to give you a message.
  • Embrace: Of course, your brain is alerting you about the possible impact on the well-being of your loved ones and your financial situation. Thank your brain, while knowing it’s a temporary message. It’s okay to feel however you’re feeling.
  • Evaluate: Determine how to play this hand the best you can. What can you do to keep you and your family safe without overdoing it? How can you reassure your teams, clients, and customers? How can you bring comfort to your friends and family? Remember that telling people they’re overreacting is not a good strategy!

SEE doesn’t stop your emotions, especially in major situations. However, the three steps should calm emotion to access higher levels of creativity and problem-solving. While this situation may feel worse than it really is, it’s still a big deal. Keep thanking the emotion for the message and focus on execution even while it’s there. In sports, we call this “playing nervous.” You can’t stop your nerves. So instead of trying to stop them, you switch to knowing you can operate while they’re there. Execute what you need to do regardless of your emotional state. 

3. Control the controllable:  You can’t control the virus, customers, the gov’t response, the market, and how people are responding around you, but you can influence them through by focusing on what you can control such as preparedness, social distancing, calling to check in on elderly neighbors, sharing supplies, and by boosting your immunity through proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise. For work, keep evaluating and doing what you think needs to be done. Acknowledge the situation as best you can and then refocus yourself and your teams on their shared goals and what needs to get accomplished over the next month, despite the disruption. Embrace this disruption and the opportunity to spend quality down that would normally be consumed by the status quo. 

Keep calm and Network on, my friends.  Be safe.  Stay healthy.  Happy Networking!

5 thoughts to “Manage Mindfully Through Pandemic”

  1. Enjoyed Jon’s article. I’m not sure how this applies but over the past thirty years I’ve found there is no such thing as luck, good or bad. Good things happen to us in our lives when we have a high sense of self worth. Not-so-good things happen to us when we have a low sense of self-worth. And it all starts the day we are born. Children who are loved grow up to love themselves. So if you have children and want them to be successful in life, give them as much unconditional love as possible. Anyone reading this who would like for me to email them a complimentary copy of my book, “Psycho Self-Imagery. The Dynamics of High Feelings of Self-Worth” just send me an email. marv.fremerman2@gmail.com.

    1. Thanks, Marvin, for your comment and generous book offer! Unconditional and enduring love is something we all need — your note, “children who are loved grow up to love themselves,” is so powerful. Couldn’t agree more and, happy to say, I am blessed to have parents who continue to shower me with just the type of love you describe! Your children and grandchildren are so lucky to have you in their lives, too.

  2. It’s amazing to see how Andrew Yang’s proposal to provide everyone with $1000 per month is catching on now after he has withdrawn from the presidential race. This is an excellent example of what is often referred to as The Theory of Paradoxical Intentions, or “Detachment” in eastern philosophy. What is the theory of paradoxical intentions/detachment? It’s when you push and push and push for something to happen and finally acknowledge that it’s not going to happen, no way it’s going to happen, and you back off and admit defeat and then suddenly, out of nowhere, PRESTO!! It happens!!!
    This generally happens in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to personal relationships, but seldom on a national scale.

  3. A few weeks ago my right breast became sore and began to swell. I didn’t do anything about it other than make sure I received a lot of sleep which is supposed to enhance the potency of your immune system. Before long, the pain subsided and the swelling disappeared. Which is the reason I’ve decided to share something that I wrote many years ago when I was doing volunteer work at the R.A. Bloch Cancer Support Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Richard Bloch was a friend of mine and he gave me his blessings. And he was in complete agreement with the premise that there was a definite relationship between cancer and stress.

    Helping cancer patients put their illness into remission.

    We all have in our bodies one of the most advanced and sophisticated medical systems known to mankind: The Immune System.
    But research has found it can be impaired by stress and many believe there’s a high correlation between cancer and stress. Where does stress come from? It’s a result of how we view our life’s issues, which emanates from how we feel about ourselves. If we have a low sense of inner-self (self-esteem) we are likely to view our issues differently than someone with a high sense of inner-self. We are likely to be more negative.
    Research has also shown that many individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer are repressing their feelings, which affects their feelings of self-worth and their immune systems.
    Here’s how it works: When you withhold (repress) your feelings and emotions it’s a form of lying that demeans you and lowers your self-esteem. As your self-esteem is lowered you begin to see your world around you from a negative perspective (“we see things as we are”) and create stress for yourself. As a result of the stress, your body gives off hormones such as cortisol (known as “the stress hormone”) that impair your immune system.
    According to the “Surveillance Mechanism Theory” developed by Dr. Carl Simonton, we all have cancer cells in our bodies. Many believe these cancer cells are a result of environmental hazards such as overhead power lines, electric blankets, cell phones, exhaust fumes, and cigarette smoking, just to name a few. The damaged cells are constantly being devoured by our immune system Pac-Man style. But as mentioned before, when we encounter stress in our lives, our immune system becomes impaired and the cancer cells begin to multiply at a rate faster than they can be devoured. The result is: we are soon diagnosed as having cancer.
    Many physicians will agree that a relationship exists between high self-esteem and wellness, and low self-esteem and illness. I’ve found that when cancer patients enhance their own feelings of self-worth, they automatically enhance the potency of their immune systems.
    In the late 1980s I lived in Kansas City, Missouri and volunteered my services at a local Cancer Support Center. On various Sunday mornings, with the encouragement of the Center’s co-founder, I would meet with newly diagnosed cancer patients in a support
    group environment. At the outset I would explain to them that even though they had been diagnosed with cancer that was not their primary problem. Their primary problem was that each had an impaired immune system. Since research has shown the most conspicuous characteristic of cancer patients is bottled up emotions, I would have each person in the group stand and tell his or her own story about stress in their lives. Each would interact with others in the room and, at the same time, bring their emotions to the surface. After talking about their issues (many for the first time) their repressed feelings began to disappear and they immediately felt better about themselves, experiencing an increase in self-esteem.
    At that point they were then ready to use a “guided imagery” technique where they would visualize their own healthy t-cells attacking their cancer cells. This exercise was accompanied by Patti LaBelle’s recording of “New Attitude.” They would close their eyes and “see” their t-cells forming an arrow and penetrating the cancer cells, watching them dissipate.
    This was done with the help of a storyboard. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to locate the storyboard. But I believe cancer patients reading this can create their own visual image of t-cells attacking cancer cells and use Patti LaBelle’s recording to accompany it. I’m sure Patti would not mind since she herself is a cancer survivor.
    Later, group participants would listen to only the music and the images that were embedded in their minds would recreate themselves, automatically. This part of the program could be compared to the “placebo effect” as it applies to health. Research concerning the harnessing of the placebo is currently being conducted by Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School.
    One last point: What I have recommended should only be considered as a supplemental program. It should not replace any treatment prescribed by a physician or oncologist.

    1. Thank you, Marvin, for sharing such a personal and compelling story. I love the power of positivity and honesty that you describe. Inspirational!

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