You Can Make Progress During a Global Crisis

Anxiety may be the new normal, but you can make mind care a priority.

Posted Mar 21, 2020

We are all faced with immense health and economic fears that are all too real. 

I know that with this current pandemic, it can be challenging to think about anything beyond the uncertainty of the present, immediate, and medium-term future. I wanted to give you some direction to help you focus on whatever goals seem most appropriate at this time. 

I like the metaphor of a body builder to illustrate that we can build our brain and that though the weight is heavy now, there are six super skills we can practice with the idea of making progress during this time—not being completely on track—but rather moving forward. 

The six super skills are:

  1. Finding gifts
  2. Setting goals
  3. Chunking, or finding stepping stones
  4. Boost motivation
  5. Manage mood
  6. Find focus

Finding gifts precedes setting goals because you want to focus on your innate talents, interests, and past successes to increase self-efficacy and motivation. Chunking allows you to break goals into small elements that feel easily manageable. When you get to that point where you just don’t feel like taking the next step, boosting motivation will get you through the fog of resistance. Managing moods will prevent you from getting derailed by impulses and other emotional upsets. And finally, finding focus will allow you to stay focused for longer periods of time, like increasing the battery life of your flashlight.

Research shows that exercise, time in nature, taking breaks, stress management, getting sleep, and limiting technology increase focus.

Creating an Emergency Rescue Kit for Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a lack of confidence that you can succeed at the goals you have for yourself. It creates hesitation, a tendency to make excuses, and a failure to assert yourself in the service of achieving your goals.

Shakespeare probably expressed it best in his play Measure for Measure when he said, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

Artist Vincent Van Gogh offered us one of the best solutions to self-doubt: “If you hear a voice within you say ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Self-doubt is often caused by specific failures we have had. The irony is that it is a distorted thought to think that failure is … actually a failure. If people were self-aware, they would talk about failure as itself a stepping-stone to success. People talk about their successes but they don’t talk about their failures, so we mistakenly think that failure is final.

If you have lost a job, take out a piece of paper and write answers to these questions:

  • What are 10 reasons I can find a job?
  • What are 10 things I did right last week?
  • How is this job search temporary?
  • How can I transform this situation with my great attitude?
  • If I started today what could I get done by the end of the week? 
  • Are my thoughts hurting or helping?

Focus on making progress. We are all in this together. 

You can practice mind-building with the six super skills.

You can practice mind care. Anxiety may be the new normal, but make self-care a priority.

You can practice care building by caring for those in your community. The town of Troy, Michigan created a "Time Out Together" that suggested at 6:30 p.m. every night, families go out and wave to each other and offer comfort within the safety recommendations. Sure, waving at a prescribed time may seem a little silly, but get creative—build care into your community. If you come up with a fun care-building idea, feel free to send it to me and I can create a new post.

Watch "Tools to be a Mind Builder."