Managing Fear In Challenging Times

This is a challenging time for everyone. Our lives have been stifled by the Coronavirus pandemic as most of us have been forced to leave our jobs and schools and stay at home to prevent the spread of this viral infection. We are also constantly barraged by negative images and news by the media onslaught of rising infection rates, overburdened healthcare systems, death tolls, impending economic collapse and an uncertain future.

Fear is a natural consequence of the situation we find ourselves in and can often be crippling and lead to overwhelm. However, we need to be able to manage our fear if we are to effectively get through the challenges we now face. Here are my steps to manage your fear:

1) Analyze your current situation. Are you currently ill, hospitalized, homeless or at risk of starvation? For most of us none of these are true. If this is the case then realize that right now at this moment there is nothing to fear. If you are healthy, have a roof over your head and food on the table then your fear is a psychological fear which is generated by your subconscious mind whose purpose is to ensure your survival.

2) If you are ill or hospitalized from COVID 19, then focus on what you need to do to get better. This may include adequate hydration, proper nutrition, a movement practice and whatever your physician is recommending. If you are critically ill then all of this is beyond your control but if you become critically ill then you need to heed the following before that happens. You need to focus on the positive and leave behind the negative, no matter how sick you are or what your situation is. If you are still breathing, even with ventilator assistance, and there is blood circulating through your cardiovascular system then there is still hope. Hold on to that and focus on healing thoughts to optimize your body’s ability to fight this infection. Belief is one of the most powerful forces in the universe and has the power to facilitate your healing.

3) Turn off the news. Mass media is not designed to put your mind at ease but to grab your attention and keep you glued to their newsfeed and, for this reason, it often has to be shocking and provocative. All this does is to aggravate the fear that you are already dealing with so just stop listening to or watching it all the time.

4) If you are healthy then take all the necessary precautions you need to take to prepare for what is happening or coming. Wash your hands frequently, sterilize your living space the best you can, purchase home emergency medical supplies, stock up on canned food and whatever else you need to do to help put your mind at ease right now.

5) Create a short-term financial plan. Many of you have been laid off or lost your jobs. Now is a time to take stock of your skills, talents and abilities to see how you can use them to pivot yourself economically. How can you apply your knowledge, skills and talents in a different way or to a different market? You need to be creative and network extensively to see where you can be of service and also earn some income. If you are no longer working, then you also need to look at odd jobs that you can do in this time. Perhaps you can find work babysitting, which is now in high demand because children’s schools have been cancelled for several months at least. There may be seniors in your community who are afraid to leave their homes and need someone to do their groceries. There are many ways to be of service in this time of pandemic and earn some income.

6) Create a long-term financial plan. Whether you want to accept it or not, our world has now fundamentally changed and will be much different after the pandemic is over than it was before. If anything, this pandemic has shown us how fragile our societies and economies truly are. The fact is that many businesses will not survive this pandemic and many jobs will be lost forever. You need to come up with a long-term financial plan that can weather any storm that comes. In the digital age, everyone needs to consider starting an online business. There are many resources available to help you do this but you need to first take account of three things: your skills, talents and abilities, your passion and what problems people have that they are willing to pay you for to help them solve. The intersection of these three things will give you a clue as to what kind of online business you could create. Many of you have much time on your hands since you are stuck at home so now is the best time to start thinking about becoming an online entrepreneur.

The fact is that fear is a natural response to the current pandemic but should be used to motivate you into action and not paralyze you into inertia. Use your fear to fuel the steps you need to take right now to prepare yourself for an uncertain future but live fully in the present moment because anything that you plan for in the future must be done in the now. This is how you will transcend your fear and reside in a place of inner serenity.


Nauman Naeem MD

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