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5 Things to Do When Faced with Scary Times

A headshot of a middle aged white man, smilingA lot of people are stressed about a lot things right now.  Big things like changes in COVID regulations, armed conflict in Ukraine, and rising costs of basic goods.  Small things like next week’s mid-term test, a deadline at work, and a sink full of dirty dishes.  In times like these, Richie Landward, assistant professor/lecturer in the College of Social Work, has noticed he gets a lot of phone calls and emails from folx wondering, “What do I do?  The world feels so out of control … what do I do?”  Below is the advice he has for those reaching out—and for you, too.

  1. Make a plan with family and friends. “The goal is to control what you can.”  According to Prof. Landward, a basic 10 point plan includes:
    1. Food for three weeksa photo of three clear plastic water bottles
    2. Cash for three weeks
    3. Water for a week (one gallon per day per person is recommended)
    4. Flashlight and batteries for 72 hours
    5. First aid kit with a three week supply of personal medications
    6. Try and keep your gas tank filled to half a tank or more
    7. Determine a location to meet, should a crisis occur when you are at work, school, or out and about
    8. A three week supply of toilet paper and personal hygiene supplies
    9. Access to a can opener, a good knife, and a lighter or matches
    10. A week supply of chocolate, wine, beer, soda … “whatever makes you smile” :)

  1. 5:1 positive to negative. “The goal is to control how much negative and scary media you take in. Every time you view/listen to CNN, NPR, or Fox News, make sure you find five other ways to be grateful and happy.”

  2. Find an outlet. “Exercise, prayer, being in nature, meditation, or deep breathing is helpful during tough times.  The goal is to control your sympathetic (primitive) brain response to stress by increasing activity in the more executive part of the brain.”

  3. Invest in each other’s emotional bank accounts—with an emphasis on being kind. “I recommend people follow John Gottman's four step process to kind communication.  The goal is to control how we interact and treat each other.”  The four steps include:
    1. Soft startups
    2. Listen instead of fix
    3. Invest in each other's emotional bank accounts
    4. Apologize when needed

  1. Journal your experience. “Find a way to record this experience as an individual and as family/friend group.  Art, writing, etc. is helpful in processing our inner thoughts about difficult external events.”
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Last Updated: 3/17/22