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Five Minutes to Thrive: DON’T PANIC- PIVOT!



First, a brief comparison. Pivoting (verb) is to turn, rotate, swivel, spin or twirl. Panic (noun) is to feel sudden uncontrollable alarm, anxiety, fright, dread or fear. We have all likely panicked about something during COVID-19. Panicking is normal, sometimes, but it shouldn’t be a constant.

Adjusting to any change in life (e.g. getting married, having a baby, retiring, separating or transitioning) can be difficult. With all the changes COVID-19 has brought us already, and the uncertainty of the future, it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling panicked. Some folks envision an entirely new world-post COVID-19. In short, we are all justifiably fearful about the threat the pandemic poses to our future. Change does not have to mean panic. Life and all the good things in the world aren’t canceled, they are just different.

Instead of a complete overhaul or visualization of a post-apocalyptic world, I suggest a Pivot instead of a panic. Pivoting is neutral and is simply defined as movement or course correction. We all have the capacity to lean while challenged, especially in the military, whereas ‘semper-gumby’ is our way of life. If you’re sick of the constant advice to define a new normal, just don’t. Instead of trying to define a "new normal," just go with what’s happening in the now. Say to yourself "today is Monday, these are my tasks, this is what’s important today, and this is what I’ll do to feel good about today." Rinse and repeat for tomorrow.

And now a brief guide on how to pivot:

Step Back & Regroup – When change makes you feel tense or edgy, it might be time to take a timeout - they’re great for adults too. Stepping back and regrouping can help you feel calmer and less reactive. Whatever "hat" you’re wearing (e.g. parent, teacher, partner, co-worker, leader), taking a breather will help you make choices with greater clarity and confidence.

Seek Solutions – Take opportunities to seek varied solutions to new problems. Do not be afraid to look "outside the box" for ideas. Plus, actively seeking solutions will give you a focus, purpose, and a sense of taking ownership of your part in the change process. Notice what you did right!

Expect the Unexpected – Even as you are in the process of pivoting to new situations, know that change may be just around the corner again! It may be helpful to mentally rehearse your reactions to changes that are likely to occur, which will help you to maintain poise when things go sideways.

For questions, contact Dr. Ashley Kilgore (ashley.c.kilgore.mil@mail.mil) or the Minot Mental Health Clinic at 701-723-5527

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