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How to De-escalate Fear and Anxiety So You Can Lead Well

With Coronavirus and other pressures, fear and anxiety are a constant companion for many at the moment. Here are some ways to reduce the effects of fear and anxiety.

Lets face it, if some media outlets are to believed, there is more to be fearful about today than at any other time, but I don’t believe it! We can live with peace, even in troubling times.


However, if you are suffering  from fear and anxiety, it can be debilitating. Here are some tips to de-escalate negative emotions:


  1. Label your emotions.

Take a moment to acknowledge how you are feeling. Try and label the emotion you are feeling, then examine yourself to find the thought that the emotion is attached to. In other words, “I am feeling…. , because I think…. .”


This Technique can help de-escalate the intensity of  negative emotions.


  1. Change your thoughts.

Negative thoughts carry with them negative emotions. Take a moment with the thoughts you have discovered in the previous step, and think of a way to change that thought to be more positive or at least more neutral. Just as negative thoughts can carry negative emotions, so more positive thoughts can carry more positive emotions.


This technique can further de-escalate the power of negative emotions  and also re-engages smart thinking, something which is disrupted by negative emotions like anxiety.


  1. Practice gratitude.

Fear and anxiety can become all consuming and self-perpetuating. They can consume all our thoughts and negatively impact our decisions. A great tool to interrupt this cycle is gratitude. Gratitude reduces anxiety, and stress hormone levels. Plus it can have a positive effect on our immune system.


  1. Feed on what is good and positive.

Negative news is addictive. But negative news brings negative thoughts which escalate negative emotions. So feed on what is good, the positive, not the negative.


Yes, it’s important to to be well informed at the moment, especially regarding the Coronavirus. But choose your sources well. Get your information from reputable sources such as the NHS or the World Health Organisation rather than sources who feed fear.


  1.  Laugh.

Joy really is good medicine. Take time for things that bring you joy. Watch something that makes you laugh. Do something that brings a smile to your face.


Whatever your current circumstances, negative emotions don’t have to be your companion for the journey. These 5 steps can transform your experience from a negative one to a positive one.


Ross Hardy, is a leadership consultant and coach, who spent a decade as a cliff-edge crisis negotiator, at one of the worlds most notorious suicide spots. The team he led there, became the busiest search and rescue team in the UK, and has rescued 1000’s of people to date. 


The leadership lessons that he learnt in those years, he now teaches through Discovery Hope, a UK based leadership consultancy. His latest online course Smart Thinking For Times of Crisis, is available on Udemy, and teaches tools for self, team, and organisational leadership for times of crisis and high pressure.

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