Life has changed and we have no idea when – or even if – it will ever go back to normal. Here are 5 ways to make rational decisions in the middle of mass social anxiety.
Even though the entire world has been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, we aren’t all reacting to our ‘new normal’ in the same way. In fact, according to Gordon Asmundson, a psychology professor at the University of Regina, people are sitting at opposite ends of the ‘response’ spectrum, in either complacency or panic, and both extremes can be harmful.
The problem is that too much complacency can make us believe that ‘It won’t happen to me.’ These individuals won’t take proper precautions and may end up harming those around them – particularly more compromised individuals whose immune systems cannot withstand infection.
On the other end of the spectrum, panic places an unnecessary burden on health systems, leads to panic buying and causes deep anxiety and even depression.
For most of us, we’re probably bouncing between the two extremes, which are panic and complacency. We’re unsure how we feel, or how we’re supposed to feel. We’re struggling to breathe one moment and thinking this is all so crazy it can’t be real, the next.
As the crisis stretches on however, it’s becoming more real – which means most of us are moving more towards panic than we potentially were before. As most of us have experienced over the past few weeks, fear is contagious, and so if we don’t start evaluating our emotions and taking measures to control them, we might find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into a state of dread – which is not at all conducive to good decision-making.
5 Ways to make decisions rationally
We can’t control what is going to happen with Covid-19, but we can begin to control our decision-making abilities. Here are five ways to get started.
Make peace with your emotions
These are not normal times and it’s natural to feel scared or even angry.
The problem is that negative feelings can become distressing, and generally only lead to more negative feelings.
One way to deal with negative emotions is to accept that they are part of this process, and that you can channel your emotional responses into constructive actions.
Instead of only focusing on the difficulties you are facing, focus on actions you can take to improve your current, day-to-day situation, as well as the people around you – is there something you can do for yourself, your community or your business and colleagues that is positive?
Change your perspective
If all you read are negative posts and comments, find a different news site to follow or join a positive mindset group on social media.
Tap into your network – give those around you, moral support and draw support from them in turn.
Leverage your stress for good
While stress has many negatives connotations, it can also be used for good.
Eustress, also known as positive stress, motivates us. To combat your anxiety, focus on something you really want to achieve and let your stress give you the inspiration you need to achieve it.
Stress helps us overcome challenges – that is one of its core functions. It helps us to adapt to new environments. Shift your mindset and learn to love your stress.
Look for the opportunities
Covid-19 is a very scary time. Downplaying this simple fact doesn’t help anyone. However, this doesn’t mean we can stop living. We all need to find our place in this new world, and to achieve that, we need to be open to new possibilities, adaptive and ready to lean into whatever opportunities come our way.
Start planning your way forward and evaluate how you will respond to different scenarios.
Visualise what will make you happy and successful in this new world, and what actions you need to take today to support that future.
Review the pros and cons that you’re facing
No decisions are made in isolation. Shifting your mindset to a more positive framework is important, but so is realism.
Draw up a list of pros and cons for each future scenario and action you are planning and reviewing.
Use this to support your decision-making process.
Don’t rush anything – make sure you are in the right mindset. If you feel dread or anxiety starting to overwhelm you, put your list away and return to it later.
Keep your list and refer back to it – it will help you to stay on point when your emotions threaten to overwhelm you.
There are no clear or sure-fire ways to navigate this crisis. We are all in new and unfamiliar territory. Finding simple yet effective ways to manage our emotions and make better decisions will help us to take some control over our lives, which will have a positive domino effect on everything else.