How the pandemic makes us feel and what to do about it
Updated: May 29, 2021
We conducted a brief poll on LinkedIn in early April to assess how the pandemic year was making our followers feel.
We found that over 3/4 of our respondents felt either Sad/Bored or Hyper/Stressed. While we ultimately hope those feelings are easing, we also took the opportunity to look at the link between emotions and behaviours in the Q.i. MAPPER framework. This helped us explain some of the behavioural outcomes we observed in the wider world and enabled us to give some tangible recommendations for those around us experiencing these negative feelings.
The Q.i. MAPPER system visualizes the relationship between words, meaning it can be used to anticipate some of the behaviours related to these emotions and are therefore more likely to arise from the feelings reported by over 3/4 of our poll respondents. Further, the dynamics of the Q.i. Map reveal "counter-points" to emotional pain; more on that in a moment.
Starting with Hyper/Stressed, these emotions are most likely to lead to worrying and over-thinking in a vicious cycle that can re-enforce the mental tension associated with this emotional territory. As a result, this may further manifest in complaining or, particularly for those feeling a bit hyper, in outward aggression. Perhaps those feeling this way have unwittingly found themselves in a fight or argument they did not intend to start.
Across the map are those feeling Sad/Bored, who are something of an emotional mirror-image to the Hyper/Stressed contingent. Those feeling Sad/Bored are more likely to get stuck in a rut doing nothing, leading to a sense of being lazy and/or wasting time. Predictably, as a result this group can find themselves overwhelmed by feelings of grief, manifest in behaviours like crying or sulking. While the Hyper/Stressed group may lash out, the Sad/Bored folks are more likely to turn inward with their negative feelings and hide away from the world.
But what to do about all this? As said, the dynamics of the Q.i. Map reveal the “counter-points” to emotional pain. Here, we can observe the behaviours on the opposite side of the map from feelings of sadness and boredom. These are the kinds of actions that could help one shake off specific negative feelings from the brown and green spaces, to find a state of balance during lockdowns and strict public health measures:
On a cursory level, it’s easy to see these phenomena unfold in our world. Many of the Sad/Bored contingent are using technology like Zoom to visit, talk, and have fun with others. Meanwhile, others feeling sad and bored are spending more time outdoors, going for a walk, or exercising to occupy our time. If you’re feeling particularly Sad/Bored, you might find it helpful to:
Talk to others about your feelings, particularly those locked-down with you who may be feeling a similar way – don’t hide away!
Get outdoors and move around in the world to see something new and feel a sense of change and agency – give your mind something else to focus on if even for a short while, so the little things at home don’t agitate you so much
Make time for enjoyment and to stimulate your senses – listening to your favourite music, enjoying your favourite shows and movies, and engaging in a hobby are great scenarios to generate balancing behaviours like Laughing, Dancing, and Having fun
Conversely, for those feeling “Stressed” and “Hyper,” these actions contribute to a sense of equilibrium:
The stressed-hyper contingent can also be observed online and in the streets. It seems no small coincidence that there has been an explosion of anti-racist activism, as those feeling stressed and hyper are likely to turn their energy to fighting injustice, surfing the internet (i.e. organizing online), and supporting others (manifest in the broad support among non-minorities for anti-racist activism). Elsewhere, intrepid programmers are plying their skills to hunt vaccine appointments for others, in a terrific display of listening, serving, and advising. If Hyper/Stressed are the negative feelings most resonant with you, you could start by:
Deliberately taking a rest and disconnecting – a good first step before re-appropriating that negative energy
Adopting some mindfulness principles to calm a busy mind – it is natural to feel the need for more distraction and the impetus to do more when so much of the world is closed off; try to focus on fewer things and engage deeply with them
Using your energy to make the most of your areas of focus – seek out others to help and support, whether that’s being a sympathetic ear to a co-worker struggling to work-from-home, helping friends and family parse the news, or volunteering for pandemic relief initiatives
We're optimistic that the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is behind us; if we can recognize the emotional pain we're left with, we can use our actions to chart a course back to balance as the World re-opens.