Shannon Says: Where’s the Opportunity?
By Dr. Shannon Terrell Gordon
Photo by Leah Yetter
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely packed a punch on the way we live our lives. While our collective ears may be ringing, it is important to remember there is opportunity in every crisis. We are wise to view, think and respond in ways that maximize the possibilities that are present.
Perhaps this challenge has given new opportunities to appreciate workers who continue on during crisis to provide the life we’ve come to enjoy? Perhaps this has prompted new gratitude for the health, freedoms, pleasures and loved ones we may have taken for granted?
Perhaps this challenge has presented opportunity to reconsider previous assumptions and values? Perhaps it has prompted us to consider what parts of our pre-COVID-19 “normal” we want to keep and which we want to leave behind?
Each of us would be wise to recognize that every experience presents opportunity for learning and growth. We would be wise to believe every learning opportunity can give us valuable knowledge and help us have a better future. Look for ideas or talents to emerge that we may have previously overlooked. Look for ways our families or co-workers may grow closer and work together better to survive or solve challenges.
We are wise, too, to recognize that survival and crisis resolution skills are like muscles. Exercising them to persist through current problems can make us more able to succeed in future challenges.
As Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Let’s learn from history and choose to see each serious problem as an opportunity to innovate and make bold, rapid advances in policy, procedures and technology.
Let’s choose to create environments safe enough to take the risks required to innovate. Willingness to risk requires safety to fail, for not every risk will be successful. However, if we are willing, we can learn from every unsuccessful attempt and fail forward.
When a crisis impacts multiple people or organizations, look for opportunities for new cooperation and then nurture those fledgling partnerships into positive relationships. When we widen our lens, perhaps we can bring in learnings from less obvious disciplines to help solve current problems.
Remember, research says it is wise to learn from the past, but not hunger for it. After all, focusing in the rearview mirror is good for backing up, but looking through the windshield is good for moving forward. While the past may be more familiar than our post-COVID-19 future, remember that the opposite of certainty isn’t uncertainty, it’s openness, curiosity, hope for and willingness to forge a future.
Maintaining balance in crisis
Soothe yourself wisely: Drinking alcohol or using other drugs can be tempting to take the edge off in stressful times. But be aware that these choices are linked to disrupted sleep and other potential negative health consequences. Practicing healthy hobbies, deep belly breathing, stretching, meditation or prayer are better choices when you want to relax.
Stay connected to social support: Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation. Talk, text or video chat regularly with those you love. Use freer time to re-connect with old acquaintances. Take advantage of technology-connected support meetings.
Sunshine and movement: Routine, repetitive movement and sound is calming to the brain. Also, movement helps get endorphins (“happy” brain chemicals) moving. Soaking up sunlight is linked to a brighter mood as well.
Select information sources carefully: Not everything on the Internet is accurate. Go directly to credible sources related to whatever crisis you face.
Speak hope and possibility: Regularly practice thinking and speaking positive words of encouragement, gratitude, hope and possibility. No matter how challenging today is, the sun will come up tomorrow.
Dr. Shannon Terrell Gordon leads Macon’s River Edge Behavioral Health and River Edge Foundation. Shannon is a researcher, author, speaker and teacher to help each person live his or her best life and to help leaders make the most meaningful impact possible.
Find more tips from her on Instagram with #drshannonsays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.