Overcoming Fear and Uncertainty During the COVID Pandemic

Fear is a common emotion being experienced today, as many worry about the recent spike in COVID pandemic cases; a second wave; and all the ramifications. Not being armed with adequate facts is a common denominator of fear. And that is certainly the case today as even the experts wonder about the future trajectory of the virus.

In a recent blog for PsychologyToday.com, I describe how fear often festers in the absence of data. I also describe six steps to help you thrive in your life and career — through COVID fears that are so prevalent today.

Here is an overview:

1. What exactly are your fears? A key part of tamping down anxiety is clarifying the specifics. What aspect of COVID is the biggest trigger for you? Committing fears to writing and evaluating them, is often helpful. If you don’t know exactly what you’re worrying about, you’re compounding a vague blanket of stress.

2. What are the facts versus fears? This is the proverbial reality check. It takes great skill to step back objectively and look at any challenging situation non-emotionally. Try adding a column of “the facts” next to your fears—and compare the them, e.g., “Fear: COVID will make it impossible to find a job for at least another year.” “Fact: We don’t know how long the virus will last; efforts are being made toward a vaccine; I have always found a job within a few months.”

3. Put things in perspective. The coronavirus is conceivably the most significant event to occur in a lifetime. It can be easy to believe an event like this will last for an eternity. During 9/11, we all imagined a new life marked by regular mass terrorism. One approach is to ask yourself, “Will today’s worries occupy my mind five years from now?” It’s more likely that other matters will be top of mind by then.

4. Know what you can and cannot control. Knowing the difference can mean much greater happiness. And that in turn can give you greater confidence as an added outcome. Try to take comfort in knowing that you’re doing all you can. Don’t be consumed by hourly news headlines.

5. Take proactive steps to stay motivated. It’s not uncommon for many to use life’s challenges as opportunities for personal development. Can you allow your resilience to overcome fear, as you’ve done before? If you’ve experienced a layoff, consider taking motivational steps to counter the negative impact of COVID, which will also benefit your job search.

6. Adopt “gratitude.” It can be difficult to shift gears and be appreciative when suffering or worried. But if you can learn how to experience gratitude, you will likely improve your mental and physical health.

It’s understandable to experience anxiety in the new Covid world we now face. But until more facts become available, you can better manage these fears with empowering habits that improve all aspects of your wellbeing.