A lot’s changed in a week. Last week spring breakers were partying hard, oblivious to what was coming. And then, for lack of a better expression, the sh*t hit the fan. Shelter-in-place orders were put in place and entire cities went under lockdown. No one imagined it would be like this, not in the land of the free. It’s likely that 2020 will go down in history, for more than just a viral outbreak, but that’s the topic for another article.
Many people’s lives have been turned upside down over the past seven days, pretty much locked at home 24/7. No gyms, no movie theaters, no malls, no beaches, no sports events, nada. Social media has become our social life.
We’ll all go through tough times in our lives, but it’s rare to go through one completely out of our control. 16 years ago, on Dec 26th, my wife and I found ourselves in a situation no one would ever imagine being in. There we were in our bungalow enjoying our well-earned vacation when the tsunami came ashore and proceeded to unleash its incredible force. With our bungalow imploding in around us, the thought that thing would be it did cross my mind.
Thankfully, we managed to escape and came home with one hell of a story to tell. The experience taught me so much about life, people and crises. While the coronavirus situation we find ourselves in is completely different, it’s a crisis nonetheless and one that might be with us for some time. As such I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stay calm in a time of crisis.
Step 1: Think
It’s easy for our emotions to get the better of us, especially in times of uncertainty. However, when I found myself underwater, not knowing whether I would be able to find air, I knew I only had one chance – to think. How long did I have? Where was I exactly? What do I need to do next? These are all things I thought about at lightning speed.
The last thing you want to do is panic. That does no one any good especially yourself. You have to do your best to remove all emotion or fear from the situation, it is what it is. But what happens next is up to you.
Step 2: Breathe
This is surprisingly simple, but in times of fear, our breathing increases, and as Tony Robbins explains “Your feelings are dictated by your movement.” I prefer to think of it as physiology precedes psychology. If you want to reduce stress and clear your mind, breathe. As many of us will be stuck at home, it’s the perfect time to try out some yoga exercises or deep breathing exercises. It may sound silly, but for those who are willing to give it a shot, I think you’ll be rather surprised at how powerful it can be.
Step 3: Find answers
The tsunami subsided in the morning, but the fear continued well on into the night. The internet was down so the only access to information came from the radio, most of which was in Thai (we were near Phuket), and the locals. In times of crisis, rumors spread fast, so you have to be able to find the truth among them.
In time, I think people will come to see the W.H.O. as completely dropping the ball on this crisis. Nevertheless, they do offer a lot of solid, trustworthy information. However, I do believe that it pays to ask questions and seek out information from valuable sources. Ever since Lehman Brothers collapsed, I have spent hours reading, listening and digesting information and slowly but surely, I gathered my sources.
Step 4: What happens next
While the days could drag on into weeks or months, the coronavirus won’t be with us forever. Eventually, life will resume, albeit different in this case I assume. We need to be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. John Marks Templeton bought 100 shares of each NYSE listed company which was then selling for less than $1 a share back in the Depression. The day World War II began, he instructed his broker to purchase every stock trading at less than a dollar. That strategy made him a very wealthy man.
I’m not saying you should buy stocks. What I am saying is that even in the darkest hours, there are great opportunities available. After you’ve watched your share of Netflix shows, gotten tired of playing video games, finished your jigsaw and cleaned up your house, maybe you should consider using this time to educate yourself to prepare for what comes next.
The tsunami was a truly terrifying experience, I never want to go through something like that again. However, there is no denying it helped make me who I am today.
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