Everyone is coping with our new way of living and working in different ways. Some people are managing really nicely. I have one coworker who loves working from home full-time, and never wants to return to the office. But I know that there are others who are having a harder time adjusting.

According to author David Kessler, the sad, uncomfortable feeling that many of us are experiencing is actually grief. We’re grieving the loss of our former way of life. Our world has changed, and no one is sure what the future will bring. It’s frightening and sad.

People often deal with grief by progressing through five stages:

  1. Denial – This virus isn’t anything to worry about.
  2. Anger – What did I do to deserve this?!?
  3. Bargaining – If I just stay inside for two weeks, everything will be OK after that.
  4. Sadness – I’m stuck inside and I feel so lonely.
  5. Acceptance – I accept that this is happening, and I will figure out how to live and work under these conditions.

We don’t go through these stages in order. We jump around, bouncing from Denial to Bargaining, and back up to Anger. Eventually, over time, we make our way to Acceptance. But getting to that point can be a difficult process.

So what can we do to make the process a little easier? If you’re feeling anxious, angry, scared, or sad, Kessler suggests that you try the following techniques:

  • Try to find balance – If your mind is focused on all of the worst things that could happen in the future, try to spend a little time thinking about all of the best things that could happen. Don’t try to rid yourself of your negative thoughts. (It’s an impossible thing to do.) Instead, try to maintain a balance between negative and positive thoughts.
  • Focus on the present – If you’re worried about the future, try to bring yourself back to the present. Look around the room that you’re in and name five things that you see. Focus on your breathing. Tell yourself that in this moment, you are OK. You have enough food to eat. You’re not sick. You’re safe.
  • Don’t concern yourself with things that are out of your control – If you have no control over something, try your best not to worry about it.
  • Be patient and kind – Be good to your coworkers, neighbors, and friends. Let small slights and annoyances slide.
  • Stay in contact – If you’re having a hard time, reach out to a friend or family member by giving them a call. Even though we’re socially distancing ourselves, it’s still important to feel connected.
  • Keep going – If you’re feeling sad, that’s OK. It happens to everyone. You just have to hang in there. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Berinato, S. (2020, March 23). That discomfort you’re feeling is grief. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief?fbclid=IwAR2emri_YvhtADkCxDUvvTiyf9lcykHUA7UdpRFdjpR5wFDyGQgjGKddNyA

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