Staying Mentally and Emotionally Strong in a COVID-19 World
Contributed By: Eric Pennington, CEQF, EQPC, EQAC, SEQ-P, BPC - Partner, Spirit of EQ
There’s no getting around it: we are living in a time of chaos and uncertainty. Most people are working to figure out what their “normal” now looks like. We can find ourselves ruminating on how things were before or wondering if life ahead will be as promising as we had hoped. This is certainly a time of stress and emotional upheaval.
If your thoughts are filled with questions surrounding what has happened, you are not alone. 3 months ago, life likely seemed to be somewhat manageable and predictable, and now that has all changed. Life will always present mysteries and uncertainties. No one really likes them, but we have no choice except to dance to the song playing. When I look back over time, my life is a mosaic of stability and uncertainty. Some say we need both in order to have a meaningful life.
What Can We Do?
Below are a few simple steps we can take during this time to maintain our emotional health. Taking care of your mental and emotional health doesn’t have to require overtime or volunteering (even though those are things worthy of our attention), but it will require you to go inside and beneath the surface of who you are, from an emotional intelligence perspective.
Emotional intelligence is simply the management of our thoughts and emotions, in order to make better decisions. When we make better decisions, we increase the chances of having better outcomes. There are no “silver bullets” or “special magic dust” to change circumstances. However, we would all like to be steady and balanced even if the circumstances don’t play out like we desire.
Here are a few practices that can boost your emotional intelligence and make a difference:
- Begin to tune-in to your thought-life. Pay attention to what you think about throughout the day. Then begin to pay attention to what you feel after the thoughts and the actions you take as a result of those thoughts and feelings. Be curious and examine what happened. Pick a day out of the week and try it for 30 minutes. The more you see the correlation, the more you will see the role emotions play in your daily decisions.
- Take a pause after experiencing strong emotions. In the first six seconds or so after an emotion shows up, your body releases a ton of chemicals and hormones. Just think about the last time you felt the emotion of fear. The goal of pausing after feeling strong emotions is to give the front part of our brain the opportunity to “catch up”, because after six seconds you will find those “fight or flight” levels dissipating. When our frontal brain is “in-charge”, rather than our fear or anxiety, we have a greater chance of making a solid, rationale decision.
These tactics will require you to put in practice and hard work. Practice and hard work are the most essential part of growing your emotional intelligence. However, it will not happen overnight, so be prepared to practice some self-empathy. Self-empathy will keep you going as you seek to make some wonderful changes.
What are your go-to strategies for practicing emotional intelligence?