Here we go again. Another world crisis has landed at our doorstep. It seemed when the threat was JUST in China— it felt worlds away. Things didn’t appear to be as urgent. Now that the issues are knocking at our door in North America, stuff just got real.
Being intimately connected to the meetings industry, (conferences, airline travel, and hotels) I’ve received a firsthand account on how this global chaos is impacting my small slice of the world.
A meeting planner colleague posted to a Facebook group that she was setting up for a large annual conference in Florida, expected attendance was well-over 50,000 people. As she was setting up her exhibit booth, she received a text message that the whole conference was canceled. Poof. Just like that. Over. I’m pretty sure she lost her breath at that moment.
There are countless other stories about how folks are struggling, scared, and hopeless. Losing tens of thousands of dollars. Canceling long-awaited, once in a lifetime vacations. Forced to self-quarantine or completely isolate themselves, (which after researching is more than a notion). Stuck in foreign countries, or better yet—imagine you could see U.S. soil from a cruise ship window and were mandated by the government to stay aboard.
Panic has set in. Uncertainty looms. Stock market prices plunge. Wall street on lockdown.
It’s tough times—no matter who you are, where you work, or where you live.
So, what do you do? How do you cope? How do you make it through this? How do you help others around you?
Here are 6 ways you can lead yourself and others when you are faced with tough times:
1. Keep Your Perspective— Question yourself, How realistic is my worry? What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? Acknowledge your emotions. Put a name to them. Don’t allow them to get the best of you. Repeat the mantra to yourself “This too shall pass,” It won’t last forever. It’s just for a moment.
2. Let the Facts Be Your Guide— The flu has been a higher threat to U.S. public health than the Coronavirus according to CDC. The flu has led to over 18,000 deaths whereas the Coronavirus only 17. By no means, is death a good thing but the way this illness has been sensationalized in the media, you’d think that everyone is dying and that you’re next. Get the facts before you get worked up. Share those facts with others and let them make a decision. Don’t follow the masses and the hysteria that you see in the media. Confirmation bias is at play— which simply means we have a tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of our existing beliefs. Plainly put, we see what we want to see and interpret based on how we want to see it. As an example, why is everyone running out to hoard toilet paper and bottled water? The Coronavirus is a repository illness not gastrointestinal. And unless you have major plumbing issues at home, what’s with the bottled water?
3. Lean On Your Serenity— Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, How much of the situation is within my control? Make a list of the things that you can’t control and focus on letting them go. Turn your attention to what’s in your sphere of influence, like your attitude, words, actions, decisions, and self-care. Rinse and repeat
4. Limit Your Media Consumption— Bad news sells. The media feeds off that. If you watch the 6 pm news, which percentage focuses on the positive things.If you’re lucky? 10% and that’s pushing it. If you’re scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, which posts tend to catch your eye—the heartbreaking stories. We’re wired for that. But we can also turn this around. Reduce your screen time. Spend that time focusing on self-care activities, like reading your favorite book, taking a walk, or chatting with a supportive and positive friend.
5. Let the Toxic People Go— Is there a person in your life that seems to have a negative cloud of despair that follows them, and they want you to share in their misery? They might update you with every possible reason you’ll get sick or hurt. Does this exhaust you? Set boundaries for yourself. Limit your interaction with that person. Be firm that you don’t want to hear about the latest development in the news.
6. Live Your Life— “Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional” – John Maxwell You can’t let the thought of every potential negative thing stop you from living. Of course, you wanna be smart about your decisions and if a real threat is looming you don’t want to ignore it. it. Don’t let the tough times define you. Remember that you have the power to change your world. If your plans have suddenly changed because of the uncertainty, for example, having to work from home or travel plans changing— turn the situation around and determine how you can use the time in another way. Maybe you catch up on some much-needed housework, or you get to binge-watch your favorite Amazon Prime show or you can work through the pile of books on your nightstand. Turn the negative into a positive.