Dealing With Emotions in Times of Crisis

Written by Catherine Armstrong,
Instructor & Leadership Coach

How do we keep going while dealing with uncertainty, lack of control and no clear way to plan?

Feelings of helplessness, loneliness, anxiety, fear and grief are often seen as negative experiences and we want to deny them, distract ourselves and forget them, or replace them with positive feelings.

There are days when I can barely move, my body feels so heavy.  There’s a deep sense of sadness and helplessness.  I wonder when this pandemic will end and I worry about my finances and the health of my family and friends. Perhaps you are looking at this pandemic as something to be endured until life returns to normal.  Life never goes back, it only goes forward, and there will be a new normal. How we manage our emotions of fear, anxiety, vulnerability and hopelessness will determine not only how we endure this disruption in our life, it can help us flourish when the crisis is past.

All emotions are natural and good; it’s what we do with them that is important.  Dark, painful emotions in times of crisis and disruption can be unrelenting.  Our instinct is to deny, try to forget or search for more upbeat emotions.  I sometimes blame myself for not always being strong and positive.


There are lessons to be learned from these emotions. It’s important to allow, recognize and accept what we are feeling.  When we name and acknowledge our dark emotions, the intensity decreases.  Sit with them, perhaps journal or talk with a trusted friend.  It’s important not to wallow in them as that only makes them more forceful and we can become overwhelmed.  Spend time looking for the teachings and messages these feelings bring.  

Poem by Rumi
There is a way between voice and presence
Where information flows
In disciplined silence it opens
In wandering talk it closes

Personal and cultural transformation happens through crisis.  This can be an opportunity to experience growth, tap into our creativity, and connect with our deepest wisdom.  We uncover our strengths when the situation is darkest.  Now is the time to create space for reflection and to get in touch with what is most important and meaningful in our lives.

For many of us, this pandemic is testing us in ways that we’ve never experienced before. When this crises is over and you step out into your new life, who do you want to be going forward?  How do you want to show up, individually and as a society? Focus on what is meaningful in your life, accept and acknowledge all your emotions and move forward with confidence.

About the author

Catherine Armstrong helps transform managers into inspiring leaders. She is a trainer and coach who specializes in helping organizations improve productivity, find solutions to conflict and problems, and increase customer satisfaction. Catherine draws on her twenty-five years of experience as a leader, business owner and manager to create relevant, practical and sustainable strategies that develop leaders and improve the effectiveness of teams. She is a leadership coach, presents workshops and facilitates team discussions.

For more information, visit her website here.

Learn from the best—Catherine also teaches Continuing Education classes with us in our Business & Leadership category.

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