The current pandemic situation due to the expansion of Covid-19 can be an important source of negative thoughts for all of us. How should we manage our internal barometer so as to meet our obligations? All the information we are given by the news and social networks provoke a very powerful emotion: fear. It is a very useful emotion when it comes to protecting us from immediate danger. Fear has a fast impact on our body and it is expressed by increasing heartbeat, sweating in the hands, or tension etc.
We also know from studies of positive psychology that negative emotions have an impact which is usually three times greater than positive emotions, such as gratitude, curiosity, serenity or hope. In that kind of situation we can intentionally activate another part of our brain that Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize winner in economics 2002) called the “system 2” instead of the “system 1”, unconscious and automatic (like fear), which handles 95% of our daily interactions. System 2 is vaguer and requires more energy to get going, but it is logical and may help us to analyse the situation coldly. That is exactly what we need in this present moment in order to assess the situation and to take the appropriate measures to manage the events the best we can. We can also meditate, listen to the music we like, or do some physical activity with the purpose of distancing ourselves from situations of anxiety. Many times it is up to us to make a small change into our emotional states.
Resilience to situations of stress and anxiety consists on feeling that we have the capacity to impact on the situation we are involved in. Sometimes it can be very difficult because very few people can impact the situation globally. Nonetheless, we can focus on the things we could have an impact on, such as our security and our punctual well-being and that of the people under our responsibility. The current situation is also a test of our adaptability. It is therefore even more important to be connected with our internal barometer in order to improve our decision-making capacity, which must be kept intact to manage the situation. The practice of mindfulness, or full consciousness, could help in some situations, but there are other ways to relieve anxiety such as physical exercise, to reconnect with an activity that fills our soul or connecting with loved ones.
Change, especially when it takes place every 24h, is quite complicated and, although it seems excessively simple, the best option is to go day by day adapting ourselves to the situation, focusing on the areas that we can have an impact on and being responsible for our actions.
Amélie de Marsily
United Way España. Head of Fundraising Committee
Illustration: Ignacio Hildebrandt