Move from frustration and fear into action – Here are three steps you can take.

In my e-book about managing stress through COVID-19, I outline several ways to manage stress through the current pandemic. If you would like to take another look, click here and get a free copy.

Perhaps you have suffered the loss of a loved one, your job or your health. Or maybe you have managed through this time intact physically, but not emotionally. This pandemic has affected everyone in some way, and if you have not experienced a significant loss then it’s likely you are continuing to experience some level of stress or frustration. Although some mandates have become more relaxed, we are still not back to normal, and for many, this can be frightening and/or frustrating.

And now, in light of recent events, there is more reason to feel upset or stressed. The deaths of George Floyd and others are horrifying and have added an additional layer of anxiety and perhaps fear that justice and kindness is lost. Many people have peacefully protested, shared helpful information or tried to combat the feelings of the world being out of control by taking action. Others feel even more despairing or helpless.

When you are afraid or frustrated, your energy goes into a state of fight, flight, or freeze. Your energy is directed toward your fear or frustration and not into your rational mind. Your prefrontal cortex, the organizing area of your brain is not engaged, and so it is difficult to think rationally. But thinking rationally is exactly what is needed to get out of this state and into a place where you can use this energy to be more productive. Being more productive will serve two functions, it will help you accomplish your goals and give you a greater feeling of control, when so much of what you may be feeling is “out of control”.

How do you get there? I suggest three steps:

Step 1. Question your thoughts.
Often our fears and frustrations about the future are exaggerated. Since we do not know what the future will bring, it can be helpful to challenge your thoughts and ask yourself if you need to be concerned about that particular issue right now. Is there something you can do right now to change your immediate situation? If so, then work on making that change. If not, accept that the fear is there but needs to be put on the shelf for now.

Step 2. Breathe.
Even if you don’t have time for meditation, take six deep breaths. While you do this, you could focus on the temperature of the breath going in and out. Notice how it feels in your nose or how your breath is warmer after leaving your body than going into your body. If you need additional breathing techniques, check out the rest of our blog.

Step 3. Take action on goals that can improve your life or the lives of others.

COVID-19 may have caused a delay in your family building plans, changed the day-to-day life of your family, or caused a change in the way you do business. The injustice we see in the world can lead you to feeling angry or depressed and even prevent you from taking action in your day to day activities. It is understandable to feel derailed. However, it is also important to pick yourself up and get back to life. How would you like things to be different? Use this time, and the energy that began as frustration or fear to transition to calmer and more focused state so you can harness that energy and use it productively.

For many people, it’s natural to think about all of the things that are wrong and what you don’t want, or how you want things to be different. Instead, if you think about what you do want and use your productive energy towards achieving that goal, you may be able to turn fear or frustration into action and achieve productive and surprising results.