5 steps to stay calm during crisis: Dealing with dire situations

It is still winter months, and the year 2020 started with lots of challenging global events. However, the current state of world enables us to go deeper and learn some good lessons for self-leadership, team-leadership and life in general: how to deal constructively with dire situations.

1. Get the facts

Inform yourself. Stay real and on the ground. Do not get distracted by loud, scary voices, or blinded by extreme viewpoints. Instead, consider the long run and see things through the lenses of history. Don’t fall into trap of short-term hysteria, but do a historical fact analysis: identify the original or best primary source of information, and check whether it proves or refutes a claim. Read, engage or simply reflect in a bit of long-term analysis.

Learn to fact-check! Check out the Module 5 on fact-checking of UNESCO’s guide on Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training.

2. Focus on your circle of control

Instead of following and being consumed what you cannot control (e.g. storms, sickness or scares in far away countries or continents), focus and act upon the things you can control and can influence. Be proactive. Think about and, actually, do what you can. Do not remain passive and consuming. Act and do the best in your situation.

Among WHO recommendations on getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 is thorough hand-washing promotion. Act and wash your hands. A lot more than usual and for at least 40 seconds. Thoroughly and correctly. Show also your kids how to wash hands properly!

3. Make up scenarios

Think of the worst-case scenario. Consider what would be the worst that can happen to you. While the worst may be death, remember there are most likely thousands of other, definitely more realistic, scenarios beforehand. Then consider the most possible outcomes that can reasonably occur before the worst-case might even have a chance to happen. Try to remain realistic. Aim to figure out the most likely scenario that will or might happen to you. Probably, deep inside, you already know it. Do not engage in daydream nightmares. Look around and see what is actually happening. As Kurt Vonnegut said, “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.” If you feel still worried or worse stress, we offer some strategies to build your personal resilience.

You can also use Willis H. Carrier formula, presented by Dale Carnegie in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: (1) ask yourself what the worst possible outcome is if you can’t solve your problem, (2) mentally prepare to accept the worst if necessary and (3) then calmly improve upon the worst possible outcome.

4. Enjoy the present of life

Consider the feeling that you are scared for your life as a *present* and start to truly and deeply living your real and good daydreams. Take all the precautions that you can, and then continue to live. Enjoy life, as if the worst-case would happen and – knowing deeply in your heart that it most likely and realistically won’t – do your best. Carpe diem!

Like WHO with COVID-19, get your resource checklist ready:
Keep a list with a set of external (outside of You) and internal (inside of You) tools you can use as support in overcoming obstacles and problems when they arise. They may include books, articles, apps, support from others, qualities, habits, skills and techniques that you have learned, etc.

5. Joke around

Have fun. Lighten up. Tell a few jokes. Laugh out loud. Make people laugh and feel at ease. Reassure people. Use humour. Be light-hearted and shine positivity.

Basically: remember to live, laugh and love.


In a nutshell on a lighter note, as a well-balanced, pragmatic Friend of mine always says: ‘If there is a problem, look for a solution. When there are no solutions, then you have no problem.’ 😉

If you seriously worry or feel anxiety or panic, I’d be happy to receive your email or to chat. I am here for You! Write me.

Subscribe to our quarterly e-Newsletter