Project Management

To cope with fear, rinse and repeat a positive routine!

From the Easy in theory, difficult in practice Blog
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My musings on project management, project portfolio management and change management. I'm a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organizational change that addresses process & technology, but primarily, people will maximize chances for success. This blog contains articles which I've previously written and published as well as new content.

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Categories: Personal Development


For those of us who are forced to be at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting to our new reality has not been easy. The loss of control we feel over what is happening around us and to us can sometimes result in negative behaviors such as panic buying. This reaction is less about worrying that common household products will no longer be available in stores and much more about feeling that we are in control of something, no matter how small that is. This becomes even more important when the situation we are in feels like it has shifted from being complex to becoming chaotic.

FDR said the "Only thing we have to fear is fear itself". It's one thing if you have a fear of a transitory event such as fear of a spider. Once the threat is eliminated, adrenaline subsides and things return to normal. This pandemic will linger for weeks or even months and if we allow our fears to cause us to behave in irrational or obsessive ways, we very likely could do greater long term damage to ourselves.

Panic buying is just one of many possibly unwholesome outlets for these fears. Binge eating, drinking, watching TV or obsessively cleaning surfaces are other possibilities. Worse still, some people might resort to spending excessive amounts of time watching videos, listening to podcasts and following social media updates about the disease. While it is understandable for us to want to remain informed as to what's going on, we need to remember that the Internet and popular media provide a distorted, imbalanced lens into what the world is really like. It can be easy for us to fall into the vicious cycle where the more negative updates we receive, the worse we feel and the worse we feel, the more we seek updates that reinforce our views about how bad things are.

Under normal conditions we establish daily routines to reduce decision-making effort. During these challenging times, whether we are working from home or are in the unfortunate situation of not being able to work, identifying and implementing healthy routines will help us feel that we have regained some control and can be something that we look forward to each day.

I've been a gym rat since my early twenties hence I took the closing of all public gyms in my area particularly hard. Spring hasn't fully sprung yet, so there are limited opportunities for me to exercise outdoors. I also happen to have a sweet tooth so it would have been very easy for me to suffer the double whammy of not exercising and binge-eating desserts to deal with the frustration of not being able to exercise! While this might make me feel temporarily better, it would take me months to get back into my daily workout routine (and shape!) once things improve. I've adapted my daily routine by waking up early and exercising in my basement for at least a half hour each day. I've also reduced how much baking I'm doing in the hopes that easier access does not translate to greater consumption. And even though these daily workouts represent only a fraction of my waking hours, the comfort and regularity of this routine gives me the mental strength I need to get through the rest of my day.

Discover one or two positive activities that you can perform each and every day and stick with them.

Control your fears before they control you.

Posted on: March 22, 2020 07:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Dear Kiron,

Thanks for sharing your strategy for cope with such factors, sincerely to me fear is not one of them, i think the principal factor is routine, monotony and the lack of human interactions, it's part of us as human beings.

I think the fear will decrease in direct proportion to the duration of the menace, like anything else the people start being used to the situation and after some time they will challenge fear and risk more dangerous behaviors.
I can give you an example that a lived in first hand during the Bosnia Herzegovina war Sarajevo it was a city in a state of siege with snipers in every corner, everyone was isolated at home, but after a few weeks people defied their luck to be able to visit family members or escape from the city, or even get essential goods. I know that it is not the same thing, but there are needs that overcome fear and isolation. Nothing compares to a face to face familiar or friend reunion.

Alexandre

Thanks Alexandre - while we are using it for work video conferencing, the same tools are well used for staying in touch with friends & family who might be just round the corner from us, but whom we are unable/unwilling to visit with social distancing in effect.

That picture (and the topic) reminds me of "RedRum"; I'm sure you will rememeber that being a movie buff Kiron.

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