Photo by Jon Shore © 2020 All Rights Reserved
Due to the rapid spread of the latest Coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19 there is widespread panic, fear, anxiety and depression.
It is essential that you learn how to cope with and to rise above the fear. Your life and the lives of those around you depend on it. There is no longer a ‘back to normal’. This pandemic is one of those events that causes a shift in the mindset and in the lives of most of humanity around the world. We are just witnessing the very beginning of this change. Within a few months there will be a new normal and a year from now another new normal. We are in a period of rapid change. In evolutionary biology this has been dubbed, by Professor Stephen Jay Gould, Punctuated equilibrium. Humanity is being forced to evolve extremely quickly by this pandemic. It is a situation outside of our control which can be extremely stressful and disconcerting.
Right now most people do not want things to change. They are used to the status quo and are afraid of a new normal that they do not know or understand. But in this situation we do not have the control we want to have. Those who are able to adapt and flow with change will be those who thrive in this new reality. Those who are not able to change will struggle and suffer.
My suggestion is to learn how to rise above the miasma of fear, panic, anger, depression and the other emotions that can distract us. Self-awareness is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal. Practice being mindful at all times and learn to relax even in the most stressful situations. Change and evolution are unavoidable and inevitable but there is an essence of you that never changes and is always unaffected by anything that occurs in life. Find that essence and access it as often as possible. That will get you through this evolutionary shift and help you thrive for your own benefit and for the benefit of your family and your community.
The coping mechanisms that humanity adopts to deal with this pandemic will have long lasting effects. Both the positive and negative mechanisms will be with us for a very long time. They will become the new normal.
Here are some recommendations for dealing with, functioning well and thriving during this current pandemic as well as other mass panics and shifts in the future.
- Learn as much as you can about COVID-19 and this Coronavirus but only get your information from experts in virology and epidemiology. Real scientists, not politicians or internet celebrities or propagandists. Be educated about this virus and the illness and how to protect yourself and your family.
- I work with clients on overcoming fear and anxiety and we apply these same tools to anxieties about the Coronavirus. It is essential to learn to see life objectively, especially when there are potential threats around. I have posted quite a few practices and articles about overcoming anxiety at my blog.
- If you do not already, learn and practice Mindfulness and meditation. Learn to step back from emotions and to see this moment objectively and realistically. Take time each morning and evening to do a mindfulness meditation or other form of meditation that helps you to have a clear mind. Practice short mindfulness exercises throughout the day every day as if it was the most important thing in your life. You can find many mindfulness and other meditations here and at my website.
- Always pay attention to everything going on in the world and in your own life from an objective, mindful, perspective. Ignore nothing. Be afraid of nothing. Be discerning. If you do this you will be able to rise above the miasma of panic, fear, hatred, anger, ignorance and depression.
- Learn to be self-aware. Self-Awareness is the most powerful skill you have. Know what emotions you are feeling and where they come from. Be completely aware of your own beliefs and preconceived ideas that might cloud your judgement. Learn to deal with all emotions and beliefs appropriately. A clear mind will allow you to make the best decisions possible in every situation and will prevent panic from causing you to make poor decisions.
- Do not get caught up in the foolish panic buying. Use your critical thinking skills Ask yourself questions like, do I really need 500 rolls of toilet paper or 500 bottles of water? This is not the zombie apocalypse. It is a dangerous virus but it is not the end of the world. Do not support those who gouge on prices during a situation like this. Do not buy their products and let them know you will never do business with them again. Discourage their bad behavior.
- Be very discerning about watching the news. Most news organizations feel that they must sensationalize to get more advertising revenue. So they over dramatize the news and they repeat the same stories over and over and over again all day and night. They believe that if you are frightened that you will watch their news programs even more often. It becomes addictive and increases panic. Some ‘news’ organizations use propaganda and lies to instill fear and cause this same addiction. Again, use your critical thinking skills. Watch the news once or twice a day just to get the important information you need then turn it off. Or get your news from legitimate news websites. Read what you need and then move on with your day or evening.
- Be extremely discerning on social media. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation and propaganda spread by those who wish to harm others, cause chaos or are just too willing to share false information with ‘good’ intentions because they are not using their own critical thinking skills. I suggest letting those who are sharing misinformation know that the information they are sharing is not true. If they do not delete their post then report it. Do your best to keep your social media clear of misinformation, propaganda and lies. Even viewing that material can be detrimental and can add to the fear and panic.
- Help others, especially those who might be more vulnerable to the virus. If you know someone who has a compromised immune system offer to go shopping for them. Check in on them. Let them know you are available.
- Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, work from home if possible, be sensible and take good care of your health.
- Ignore politicians, media figures and propagandists who are using this crisis to manipulate you. Ignore politicians who are lying for their own benefit. Ignore and report internet trolls on social media. Do what you can personally to stop the spread of misinformation.
- In some countries you should not depend on your current government to help or to take care of you. They will not. Educate yourself about this outbreak and use the suggestions I have outline above.
- Recognize that there will be long term consequences and changes to our societies and cultures due to this pandemic. A shift so to speak. Some of those changes will be welcomed and many will be difficult like; widespread PTSD, general anxiety and depression. If your mind is clear you will not have to cope with these consequences and you will be able to help others who have become overwhelmed.
- Live your life fully and thrive. Do not let fear and panic distract you. Do your work to the very best of your abilities. Enjoy the pleasures of life. Continue to live, share, communicate, eat, exercise, support, be compassionate, be helpful and love.
Remember that we are all responsible to and for each other. That together we thrive and separated we subsist. Greed, ignorance and stupidity are anathema to a healthy and thriving society.
Jon Shore - is a psychotherapist with over 40 years of experience in clinical and private practice psychotherapy. You can read more of his writings at his blog. © 2020 Jon Shore - All rights reserved -To reprint please contact the author at