Hi! I’m Steven. I’m a professional therapist, coach, trainer & author with over 20 years experience. I teach the latest psychological tools and techniques to help you transform and make a difference.
First of all, I’d like to wish you all the best in this uncertain time. It’s a strange & unsettling situation indeed and I’m sending you all the positive vibes I can muster.
A lot of people have been asking me for some tips on how to manage the Corona situation psychologically.
How do you manage the fear, the stress, and the potential isolation?
To be honest, you could probably write an entire book on it – so I’ll be writing more about it as the situation develops – but I think a good place to start is to acknowledge the role of perception.
One of the most useful psychological ideas you can internalise – in my opinion – is the idea that, ‘You do not respond to reality, you respond to your inner perception of reality’.
So, for example, if you were to imagine taking a big juicy lemon out of the fridge, cutting it in half and biting into it, there’s a good chance your mouth would start to water.
Or, if you think long enough about an amazing holiday that you’ve been on, you’ll most likely start to feel good.
In both examples, you’re using your inner perception to create a vivid experience, and your body starts to respond.
This, of course, can also happen in a negative way: we imagine something scary and horrible, step into it, start to act as if it’s our reality, and our body then responds accordingly by going into lockdown.
For example, perhaps your partner is late back from work so you imagine all manner of horrible things happening to them.
Have they been involved in an accident? A car crash?
Or worse, are they having some kind of candescent affair!
You whip yourself up into a frenzied state, convincing yourself that something unspeakable has happened to them, only for them to walk in through the front door 5 minutes later, revealing that they got caught up in a traffic jam.
We do this kind of thing a lot. And we’re good at it.
If there’s a gap in our imagination we look to fill it…
…and we don’t always fill it with good stuff.
So…back to the coronavirus.
One of the big issues we’re all facing when dealing with the situation psychologically is managing the unknown…
…managing that ‘gap’.
Because it’s an unprecedented situation, we don’t really know how it’s going to pan out so there’s a huge gap in our imagination that needs to be filled.
So what do we do?
We fill it.
And many people are filling it with some pretty scary scenarios – I’ll admit, I’ve dabbled in a few post-apocalyptic ones that resembled scenes from Mad Max.
Now, we’re obviously right to be concerned, and we’d be stupid not to take action to safeguard ourselves, but it’s also important to remind ourselves that many of the scenarios we’re stepping into are just that: they are scenarios.
They are inner movies and projections we’re playing through – and stepping into – inside our minds.
Some will have a strong basis in reality whereas others will not.
And knowing the difference between these two groups will massively help your psychological health.
So if you’re scared out of your wits and considering locking yourself in a cupboard until June with nothing but toilet roll and pasta, then it might be worth appreciating the role that perception is having in creating that fear.
*Note: Of course, if you have an underlying health condition then it goes without saying that you do all you can to protect yourself – the above strategy might be a viable one!
Also, if you scroll down further you’ll find a couple of quick tips & additional resources you can use to help you manage your perception in this unsettling time.
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Quick Tips for Managing Perception during a Crisis
→ Tip 1: Increase Self-Awareness
Turn your awareness to the inside and pay attention to the scenarios you’re playing through inside your mind.
What images and movies are you recursively running inside your mind?
Spend some time writing them down in a journal and then do your best to look at them objectively – I know this can be challenging but it really does help.
→ Tip 2: Externalise your Thinking
Another tip is to imagine what advice you would give to a friend who was playing through these scenarios.
This can help externalise your thinking and it can then be a lot easier to view it from a more objective place.
Also, if you’d like a more comprehensive technique then check out this video I did a while back. In it, I outline a 5-step process to help you manage negative thinking that is spiralling out of control. I call it ‘The Negative Thought Fast’.
It won’t stop bad things happening but it will help you manage them a lot better.
Video Lesson: How to Manage Negative Thinking
→ Tip 3: Tap into your Innate Resilience
And finally, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves how resilient we can be, as human beings.
We might think of ourselves as weak but I do believe that, deep down, ‘resilience’ is a human trait that we have in abundance.
When the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, we usually discover that we are infinitely more resourceful than we previously realised.
So it’s good to remind yourself of this.
For more help with tapping into your resilience, here’s an article I wrote about the subject a couple of months ago.
In it, I outline 2 methods for harnessing more of your own natural ability to be resilient.
Here’s the link to it, if you want to take a look:
How to Become more Resilient – blog post
All the best, and hope you stay safe!