The impact of COVID-19 on people and society is considerable. When I look at what I am experiencing around me, it looks like a lot of people are in some kind spiral of fear. They’re overwhelmed with stress. As a result, they experience an increase in anxiety, poor sleeping patterns, nervousness, being touchy and irritable, and difficulty relaxing. There is also a group of people who think that the COVID-19 does not exist at all. For them, things are not as difficult. The key question for me is: how are we going to find a new balance in a world of great extremes? To go through this phase, we will have to reinvent ourselves. As far as I am concerned, there is a natural wisdom in the words of the management expert Drucker: ” The best way to predict the future is to create it”. Life is not going to be the way it used to be, but it doesn’t have to get any worse. On the contrary, we need to manage to keep our heads cool and not be overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions.
Fear of the future
Many people are suffering psychologically because of COVID-19. There is fear about the future and a feeling that there is nothing to look forward to. Scott Berinato, expert and authority on the subject, has written an article on Harvard Business Review saying that the emotions we feel today are comparable to those of mourning. This reminds me of the work of the Swiss American doctor and psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who describes the process of the change curve when we are faced with a violent crisis in our lives.
In line with the curve of Kübler-Ross, we first entered a state of shock due to the virus itself and the reduction of numerous common activities. Through a process of not being able or willing to believe this, we are in a state of denial. Next, we have become frustrated with the new normal, which is very different from what we are used to. That has caused lots of stress and lack of sufficient energy with many people who now enter a state of depression. Now is the time to take responsibility for the situation we are experiencing. Kübler-Ross describes three golden keys: Experiment, Decision, and Integration, testing a new approach, accepting ‘the new’ and becoming a ‘new person’ by integrating innovation into all aspects of life.
The power of ‘not knowing’
More emphatically than before, humanity experiences the fragility of life. A lot of people around me have become afraid. They feel they’ve lost control of their existence. In order not to fully face up to the new reality, we invent nonsensical stories and conspiracy theories, which reinforce the collective imbalance. Of course, we must be alert to COVID-19. Social distancing is currently necessary to wisely deal with the virus, but we should not go over the top. At the same time, let us remain vigilant so that we no longer linger in the first four phases of Kubler-Ross’s change curve. I do not know what “the new” is going to look like either. Could we have foreseen 10, 50 or 100 years ago what society would look like in 2020? It is an art to dare, as a human being, to accept the power of ‘not knowing’. To embrace uncertainty, for example by asking more questions. That leads to new impulses and insights. We can test it in practice. On that basis, we can recreate a new future together.
From stress- to happiness hormones
The renewal process calls for a new balance in all areas of our lives. That starts within us, and if we could even help one person in our circle to find that new balance, we could make miracles together.
If we experience persistent stress, our body makes more adrenaline – as well as the stress-hormone cortisol. For instance, if you often worry about your physical condition or the possible infection by people in your environment, this increases the level of stress hormones in your body. This happens also when you feel angry or anxious because your sense of freedom is limited, lonely or isolated by the lack of contact with others or hurt by others who are judging your situation. If you overthink about all the doomsday scenarios in your life, you will also feel anxious, sad, strange and restless. You become unbalanced, and no longer have access to your inner source of creativity and inspiration. Instead of stress hormones, you can also work to boost the happiness hormones in your body. Runners know the famous runner’s high feeling. That is not a myth, but a practical and tangible way of creating endorphins. Endorphins are produced after ten minutes of exercise and active movement. These substances are also released when we make love, laugh or simply do daily tasks. In addition to endorphins, there are several other happiness hormones, which help people experience inner peace and completeness, regardless of the situation around them.
We can do a lot to achieve a calm mind, feel better, and find new balance in all aspects of life. From the healthcare sector, we are supplied with a lot of practical solutions, such as creating a more structured routine, eating and exercising healthily, building moments of relaxation during the day, keeping your brain active, finding distractions, staying connected to people around you and tracking the news and even gossiping through social media or app groups.
We do not have to pause our lives until there is a solution to the corona crisis. In fact, the faster we learn to deal with the uncertainty of our existence, the fragility of life, the inability to control everything, the sooner we will create a new future together. If we empower each other in that process, there will be a flywheel effect that is unprecedented.
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All we know about the future, is,
that she will be different. Trying to predict the future
is like trying to
drive down a country road in a car
without light and looking through the rear window.
The best way to predict the future
is to create it.
– Peter Drucker