How do we build an emotional moat around ourselves so that we can still thrive in a time such as this? There's so much light within the darkness and yet, how can we continue to keep that light and energy shining on others and ourselves as we navigate through this crisis

We all have, what I refer to as a mental, emotional, and spiritual thermostat. In other words, we are all "set" at different levels and when we cross and go over our mental, emotional, or spiritual number, we go into a state of overwhelming stress and feel out of alignment or off balance. What do we do to lower those levels so that we can move forward and function? Once we identify what that number is for ourselves, we can self-regulate and live in our power. Living in our power allows for more clarity to move forward with the activities at hand.

The best way to innovate, create, and stay calm is to fill your mental, emotional, and spiritual buckets up first and foremost. Be proactive about it. Schedule it like you schedule every other important thing in your life. If you do, then your thoughts and ideas are empowered to flow freely, and you'll build up momentum and be productive in spite of the circumstances. It is this level that's required in the New Normal in order to remain a relevant, innovative leader in your business, in your community, and in your family. They all need you now, perhaps more than ever.

Let's take a look at what we have to work with.

Filling up your Mental Bucket

The words you use are always important — especially now. Words matter more than you may realize. Why? Because your words come directly from your thoughts as a means to communicate your innermost thinking to yourself and to others.

What are you reading? What are you watching? Are you spending your days immersed in the steady stream of bad news from around the world? Or are you selectively checking in to know the facts so that you can decide how to help others around you? Find books and podcasts that lift your spirits and remind you that we are all going to be OK; that we are stronger than we think; that our role is to (like they tell us on airplanes) put on our oxygen masks first so that we have what we need to help someone else. Are you doing that? Are you looking out for you?

Filling up your Emotional Bucket

Accept your feelings as they are and be compassionate with yourself. It's hard not to feel grief over all that has transpired over the past few months. Perhaps the shock has calmed a bit for you and it's time to "see" through a new perceptual lens that you're OK now. You may need to check in hourly to see how you're feeling and when the feeling of overwhelming and intense fear crop up, remind yourself that you are okay right now. Be kind to yourself rather than beating yourself up for not doing more. If you're saying "You should…" be doing this or "should" be acting a certain way, you know you're being harsh to yourself.

Many people are losing their jobs, losing loved ones, worrying about the economy during this crisis and ongoing shutdown. Others are grieving, too, worried about their economic future and health. This is the time to strengthen your "compassionate and understanding" muscles. We've seen the beauty and power of compassion help all across the world. We are the Second Responders that must be available for ourselves and for others' emotional well-being.

A very effective strategy to help you let go of anxiety and anxious feelings is to allow them to be expressed. Recognize your emotions, maybe even journal about them. Research has shown that writing by hand in the form of journaling is an excellent way to keep the brain's gray matter sharp and generate a more positive mood by being self-reflective, instead of bottling things up inside. Many areas of the brain are activated when you journal, such as thinking, language, memory, and healing. There's a reason why, with more than 30 million copies published, one of World War II's biggest bestselling books was in the form of a journal: The Diary of Anne Frank.

Filling up your Spiritual Bucket

As Albert Einstein said, "In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity." The gift is to find the prospect within a predicament and to grow from the experience. This starts with assessing the situation as though you are an observer… or as if you are sitting in a theater and watching the show. Being able to "distance" yourself and become the character onstage, you will be able to "see" with a new lens filled with observation and curiosity, rather than watch with judgment while fixating on the worst-case scenario.

Above all, stay in gratitude. Research studies continue to show that gratitude increases happiness, reduces depression, and is a major contributor to resilience. As you focus on gratitude during the day, it will help realign your mental, emotional, and spiritual buckets around the clock.


Ruth Klein