There have been comparisons of this week to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 but something felt very different for me. Some of my thoughts were summed up in a Tweet by Matt Haig*: “News is normally a fading shock. A terrorist attack, say, that hits us and then we absorb it and its impact fades. We aren’t used to a rising shock. I think that’s what makes our current news so psychologically hard.”
When 9-11 happened – or a tornado, hurricane or fire – it happens and then it is done. With COVID, there is ongoing anxiety as the threat looms. Life seems even more surreal because some people right in our own circles are living in ordinary ways while there is a massive disruption for others. There isn’t that same universal, common experience that often follows a tragedy.
Two takeaways from this for me:
- There is a need to attend to our mental wellbeing as well as our physical environment. Yes, it’s important to hunker down and social-distance but it’s also necessary to impart some self-love. Even if you’re not sick or out of a job, the uncertainty alone makes for stressful times. Don’t dismiss the anxiety – attend to it.
- Remember how you feel and draw upon that empathy when there are parallels in your organization or family life. Don’t drag out the threat of layoffs and let concerns about company viability linger to cause ongoing stress. If a friend or family is gravely ill, be gentle around the anxiety that comes with the unknown.
Life needs you to take extra care when a negative is likely to escalate before it dissipates.