COVID-19: Handling Crisis with Emotional Awareness


While we were already in the middle of a six weeks lockdown, to control the spread of disease, the Government of Nepal further extended the lockdown by 10 days.
Working from home has become a new normal.  However, under these circumstances, things can get challenging from a professional as well as a personal point of view. The pandemic has produced a range of emotions that leaders, as well as other individuals of an organization, have to recognize. However, the question is- How?

As rightfully said by Carl Jung- “ There is no cure and no improvement of the world that does not begin with the individual himself”, an awareness of self is a foundation for all positive human endeavor and human interaction.  Although easier said than done, this can be a notion to overcome the stress of individuals including business leaders.

To discover some ways to overcome personal and professional challenges that SMEs are currently facing, we recorded a podcast episode: “COVID-19 Handling crisis with emotional awareness” with Bhawana Shrestha, the co-founder of My Emotions Matter and an active advocate of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and good mental health in Nepal. Find out some advice on what start-ups can do in this lockdown by watching the full episode here

Continue reading to find some of the interesting highlights of  this conversation:

How has the lockdown for Covid-19 affected businesses?
This lockdown has given us an opportunity to look for different learning opportunities, to communicate, and to extend our services to various people through online mediums. However, lockdown days tend to get busier in comparison to the normal days.  Arrangements of online tasks and continuous work do take a toll on everyone. Further, the lockdown has affected the financial aspect to the extent of every institution. However, we still need to utilize this time to the fullest and for when we resume normal operations.

How do you suggest founders of start-ups deal with the stress of tough decisions caused by Covid-19 breakdown?
Challenges are an on-going process for any organization. For the undesired effect of Covid-19 on start-ups ground, it is very important for founders to properly communicate with their teammates especially regarding any financial cut-offs if implemented, considering the tone of the message. There needs to be a mid-point of the perspectives. Teammates are there as they value and trust the founders. Covid-19 is a common problem. Chances are staff who will understand the situation of the business. Also, founders should take care of their personal well being. Anxiety is quite contagious. There is a need to empathize with oneself; knowing ones’ triggering point, understanding the cause of anxiety, getting mentorship, and even knowing whom to share the anxiety with.

How do you build that self-awareness when you’re in a leading position and people are looking up to you?
Self- awareness is a continuous process. Rather than dwelling on the past, we need to start from this moment. “If you can name it, you can tame it”- start by defining your emotions like anger, happiness, fear, or trust, and then try to come up with a cause of those emotions. This makes the process of self- awareness a lot easier.

How can the founders/leaders/managerial heads create a positive space for the employees in this time of uncertainty?
Every individual has a distinct love language. Some feel loved through gifts, some through positive affirmation, touching an object, or even from the physical presence in different places. For example: for some employees, the workplace could be an escape. Lockdown may have taken away such aspects from people’s lives because of which they might feel extreme disappointment or sadness. So, in such situations, one thing a managerial head can do is to try and understand the context and communicate. Conversation helps a lot.

Do you have any suggestions for others for stress management relevant to this period of crisis?
My advice would be to ask yourself the root cause of your feeling, try to name it based on eight fundamental emotions for a solution. Apart from your work, find out the alternatives you enjoy doing to get away from unwanted feelings.

Article by Sujana Joshi