As the spread of COVID-19 continues, business leaders across the world are increasingly facing difficult decisions. How will they continue growing the company? How can they best support and keep their employees? How will they be able – or will they be able – to operate long term? The list evolves each week as the economic, social and environmental impact of a global pandemic unfolds.

While leaders may be still be showing external calm and confidence, there are many I know whose  internal dialogues are screaming something more along the lines of: “Oh $X !! @!!” and straining for a return to the way things were. The new normal has yet to be created, and much for than calm will be needed to develop a better way to work and live post – pandemic.

In the short run, being calm on the surface can work, but in the deeply uncertain circumstances we find ourselves today, acting isn’t enough. Unless our emotions are rooted and refueled by deeper beliefs and regular mental, physical and spiritual practices, our exterior walls wear thin and eventually, we no longer have the energy to keep up the facade. When that happens we put everything we care about at risk – our health, relationships around us, and the business. It’s important as leaders to exemplify practices that help us, and our teams weather the storm with energy left to move forward when it clears.

Stopping The Spread – Of Anxiety

As the Coronavirus containment continues, our collective anxiety builds. While we can’t control the pandemic, we can control our feelings and mental outlook.  Together, our feelings and the meaning we attach to events impacts our ability to deal with difficult situations.  The philosophy of toilet paper hording may still evade me – but I do know coping tips gleaned from years of coaching leaders amid unexpected events, economic downturns and personal crisis.

These ideas, combined with a few tips from Harvard Business Review can support leaders at every level. With regular practice, clients tell me they’re able to move away from anxious reactions to intentional action. They’re expanding their reserves of inner calm, confidence, vision and optimism for the rebuilding that lays ahead. This in turn, does wonders to inspire those around them.

Here are tips to help retain your internal calm – and sustain your resilience through the remainder of the current ‘normal’. 

1. Stop and smell the roses.

Or perhaps, the lysol. While you may not be able to go outside right now, the sentiment of taking a moment to take a mindful pause is still salient. Taking a break from the onslaught of media and virus-related discussion and focusing on areas where you feel more calm – whether that be physical parts of your body, a calming sight outdoors, or even on your own breath – will help you stay grounded.

2. Be mindful.

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help you remain stable through tough times. Anxiety may be contagious but so is calm; the more you focus on this positive sentiment the more it will begin to permeate your mental state. It can even impact others you interact with. With all the social distancing going on, you’ll even have at least 6 feet of uninterrupted space to yourself in which to meditate.

3. Live in the moment.

Our lives are generally go, go, go, and involve planning, analyzing, and forecasting for things months, or even years, in advance. Right now, though, we simply don’t know what will happen next week, much less next month. This is scary, but it can also be liberating. Taking things as they come day by day help make the crisis more manageable. This departure from the norm may even provide an unexpected reprieve from the daily overload and offer rare blank spots on your calendar to be relished. 

4. Connect with compassion.

As I talked about in a recent post, compassion is essential for any leader to build relationships and connect with others – especially during trying times. As an added benefit, you may even find unexpected creativity as a result of your change of scenery and departure from the norm. Managing anxiety involves taking care of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, looking for positives in a sea of negatives out there, and offering an empathetic connection to others. 

Curious what works to help you go the distance? Want to actually feel as cool, calm and collected as you look? Let’s talk!

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