The COVID-19 Emotional Roller Coaster - How are you feeling right now?
Since March we’ve been delivering virtual programs to help our customers, colleagues and friends keep their resilience levels up during some unprecedented levels of uncertainty and chaos. At the beginning of each webinar, we poll our participants to share in one word what emotion they’re feeling right now, and we report the results in a word cloud. We’ve noticed some interesting shifts in the emotional climate over time and want to share them with you.
As you read through our examples, ask yourself these questions:
- Have my emotions been changing over time?
- Have my emotions tracked in similar or different ways from these examples?
- Have my emotional responses been helping me or getting in my way?
Here's the result from a session in late March. The major responses were in the anxiety/worry/stress domain. This makes sense, doesn't it? We were just being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to the sudden shifts in lifestyle. We needed to adjust to working at home and we were figuring out how to balance the competing needs of the family for space, computing, WiFi, and more. And we didn't know whether to plan for days, weeks, months or longer. So it makes sense that Anxiety dominated.
By late April, things were changing. Emotions became more neutral, with focus replacing anxiety as the predominant sentiment. Although there was still a great deal that we didn't know, the future was becoming more predictable. We had a better sense of how long we'd be at home. For many, finances became more stable. The news was becoming a bit more consistent and the positive impact of sheltering and social distancing was beginning to show. And we were settling pretty comfortably into our new work, school and family routines.
In late May, the mood continued to shift. Uncertainty now topped the list, along with some frustration, impatience and confusion. On the positive side, gratitude showed up. Transition plans were announced and being rolled out in some locations. Many were actively involved in return-to-office planning. But the mounting uncertainty about what the new future would look like and exactly how to anticipate and respond seemed to create more of an emotional "stew".
And bear in mind that the George Floyd protests hadn't even happened yet!
Whether or not these results reflect your own emotional state over the past few months, there's value in reflecting on how you are feeling right now and whether you're riding an emotional roller coaster. If you don't like how you're feeling, remember that it's what we think that determines how we feel. The next time you find yourself feeling an emotion that's getting in your way, ask yourself a simple question: Is what I'm thinking right now making me feel better or feel worse? If your thinking is making you feel worse, try calming yourself with a quick couple of breaths and then try to come up with a more positive way of thinking. This is easier said than done, but with practice you should find yourself feeling and doing better.