No-doubt this is a challenging time for people around the world.  Impacts range from the virus itself, social distancing, protecting the ill, working, not working, the fear of the unknown — it’s hard to find a person who isn’t impacted in some way.  As an empowerment coach, I’ve found that the overwhelming experience seems to be a sense of helplessness and fear of the unknown from what’s happening in our communities and in the world. 

Here are 5 mindset hacks to feel powerFULL in a powerLESS situation.

1. Give your brain a break.  There’s a part of the brain, the amygdala, that is on overdrive during a crises, often referred to as an amygdala highjack. This is the part of our brain that processes emotions and, in the face of a threat, initiates a fight, flight, or freeze response. You also have certain hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, that are activated when your body is facing a threat.  While these are necessary defence mechanisms that our bodies have to support our survival, prolonged survival response is unhealthy for your body and mind. Give your brain a break by turning off the news and social media, and allow yourself to have other emotions like joy, peace, love, surprise, and excitement.  You could watch a funny movie, read a romance novel, dance like no one’s watching to your favourite music, or even brainstorm ingenious business ideas. 

2. Manage anxiety with your your O.N.E. focus. This is your acronym for your critical self-care basics and it stands for getting outside, eat nutritious food, and exercising regularly.  Taking care of your body will help optimize your immune system, keep your energy vibrant, and don’t forget, a healthy body fosters a healthy mind.  When you take care of your body, you are acknowledging what you can do. You will remember that while there is much you cannot control, you are not helpless. 

3. Helping others helps your mind. This may not sound like a mindset hack but it’s actually a highly effective one.  Covid-19 has left many people extremely anxious about their own well-being and the well-being of others. So in addition to doing your own self-care, put your focus on how you can help.  Maybe you will start a neighbourhood phone tree to ensure people in your area are checked on and have the basic essentials.  Zoom or Skype gatherings are becoming increasingly popular and creating your own group for a book club, dance party, or karaoke, would surely provide you with a great sense of purpose and fulfillment during this challenging time.

4. Beyond social media.  During these times of social distancing and isolation, it’s become increasingly important to stay connected to others.  This needs to be more than scrolling and commenting on social media platforms.  Reach out to people.  Find out how they are doing physically and mentally/emotionally.  Share about your life and your feelings and at least once a day, be live on video with someone through one of the many apps available for video calls. 

5. Rewind your brain into the present.  Another part of our human survival response is to perceive and predict threats.  With endless exposure to vast information about the current covid-19 pandemic and even more predictions about what could come in the future, it’s no wonder many people are panicked. When our minds wander into the future, we are not the present moment, dealing with reality.  Remember, our brains inform our bodies.  So when we spend a lot of time focused on the worst case scenario of the future, our bodies begin having a physiological response as if that scenario is happening now.  What that means is, if you’re worried that this might be the end of the world, you’ll start feeling and behaving like the world is ending now. So the trick is to recognize this, acknowledge that survival strategy for what it is (a concern or prediction) and what it isn’t (current reality), and ground yourself in what is actually happening now. For example, do you have food to eat today? Are you taking the recommended precautions? Handle the things you do have control over and trust that you will be present and powerful with anything that comes your way.