Although you can’t anticipate what the pandemic will do in the future, you can control how you respond to it. Here are 10 strategies to help ease anxiety.

The coronavirus has officially become a pandemic. We’re in unknown territory in terms of how long COVID-19 will last, as well as how it will impact our business and financial well-being. Fear is a normal reaction.

When you hear bad or threatening news, it’s normal to be overwhelmed with fear. Fear plays an important role in helping you avoid dangerous situations. Long-term stress and fear, however, weakens your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to disease and injury.

The critical factor in this equation is the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol plays a key role in fight-or-flight situations. Long-term exposure to cortisol, however, can lead to a variety of health problems like depression, heart disease and anxiety, among others.

Although you can’t control what the COVID-19 will do, you can control how you respond to what is happening. It’s imperative for your health and well-being, to begin exercising that control now. Here are 10 steps you can take to manage any fear you may be experiencing and to get back to enjoying your life as much as possible.

1. Work remotely

Most real estate professionals have the option of working remotely. If you haven’t done so already, make plans to take your business virtual now. Last week, my column outlined a step-by-step process for handling transactions from your home.

2. Turn off major network and cable news shows

Get your news online, not by watching videos. Seeing pictures of everyone masked up, hospitals, drive-through testing, and hearing newscasters repeatedly describing the latest bad news amps up your fear levels. You’re much less likely to experience fear and stress when you’re reading words versus watching a video.

My favorite source for objective online news is TheDonut.co. The website always has a “Dose of Positive.” Plus, the reporting is strictly fact-based. Editorial opinions are clearly labeled as “Far Left,” “Center Left,” “Neutral,” “Center Right” and “Far Right.”

3. Engage in extreme self-care

Strengthen your immune system by adopting a few pillars of healthy living. Do your best to eat well, get extra sleep, drink plenty of water, exercise, and engage in activities that you make you laugh or smile.

This might also be a good time to start listening to music that makes you feel good. Music is known to have stress-reducing effects, and numerous studies have revealed it can fight depression and lower blood pressure. (Have you heard the song “Weightless” by Marconi Union? It was ranked as “the most relaxing song ever,” based on research conducted by Mindlab International).

4. Take all non-essential items off your to-do list

Focus only on what matters most, and put everything else aside for the next few weeks. Make sure everyone in your household does this as well. Today, less is more.

5. Avoid eating comfort food or drinking to relieve your stress

In times of crisis, reaching for comfort food is a natural reaction. Avoid eating to calm your nerves. Instead, protect your body by consuming nutrient-rich foods that support your energy and good health.

6. Think locally, act locally

When you are facing a pandemic, your first obligation is to do everything possible to keep your loved ones healthy. The world will still be there with all its other problems when COVID-19 dies down.

7. Engage in activities that help you feel grounded

Step outside, bask in the sunshine, and enjoy the beauty of springtime. Care for your garden. Hike or bike your favorite trail. Seeing the trees and flowers blooming will remind you that life is cyclical and that the issues we’re facing now will eventually be behind us.

8. Renew your interest in a favorite hobby

Pick up that paint brush, pull out that old guitar, or find that special cookbook that belonged to your grandmother. Doing what you enjoy energizes and balances you.

9. Go out of your way to be courteous and kind to everyone

Challenging times call for us to be at our best and to go even one step further. When everyone is feeling the stress, minor things can trigger major reactions. Do your best to avoid adding any additional stress on top of what people are already experiencing.

10. Most importantly, laugh and smile!

It’s true what they say — laughter might just be the best medicine. According to the American Heart Association, laughter helps decrease stress hormones and boosts your immune system. It floods your body with beta-endorphins, a key neurotransmitter that blocks pain and makes you feel good.

By the same token, when you smile at someone and they smile back, their smile releases beta-endorphins in their system, making them feel better. It’s the equivalent of giving them a virtual hug.

Very simply, the world is a treacherous place. You can choose to let fear dominate your life or you can take steps to manage the fear and live your life to the fullest extent possible.

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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