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Can we coach the pandemic angst?

Or why coaching is so helpful during this crisis

We are all living it. For me, in Portugal (with frequent travel to the US and West Africa), it started roughly one month ago. First cases, first wave of panic. People dismissing it, people denying it, people angry about it (I was one of these people), lots of fear.

After denial, and anger, I started researching the pandemic furiously, in my typical high achiever way. I spoke to my husband, who is a public health specialist about it, I learned a lot about the pandemic, the virus in itself. I got really curious about the Spanish flu and all the stages people went through, throughout the different waves – you name it.

Then, as a coach, my attention shifted to “how can we all deal with this without losing our minds?”, “can we coach the pandemic anxiety?”. At first, I was hesitant, thinking maybe this would belong exclusively to the realm of therapy. I watched on-line webinars and read tons of articles on mental health and the pandemics. I coached myself, my clients and started an on-line group coaching support on this topic. I identified patterns and themes. It is working. Clients say the felt heard, connected and that they developed new ideas and/or strategies to deal with different sources of the anxiety.

So, my conclusion is: surely therapy can help, but coaching can also be extremely beneficial and here are a few examples why:

  1. This pandemic’s anxiety is real, all around us AND it heightens all other anxieties, the ones that were already there. If you had tension with your spouse, parent's guilt because you work too much, or conflict with your teammates, the pandemic anxiety will make it worse. Coaching helps you addressing these other root causes of your anxiety, which are common coaching goals.

  2. This pandemic ignites our difficulty to surrender, to let go of what we cannot control, and ultimately confronted our challenge with mortality. Coaching helps you let go what you cannot control and focus on your circle of influence i.e. what you can do within of sphere of control.

  3. This pandemic turned our lives upside down. If we are lucky, we are now working from home, some of us in what we consider personal or family spaces. Coaching helps you develop strategies to reorganize and readjust the space around you, declutter and identify elements that can help you focus, be creative and/or more effective, even if the space is limited.

  4. This pandemic deprived us of personal contact with friends, family members, cultural or sports events. It made simple trips to the supermarket feel like we are risking our lives. Coaching validates your feelings, helps you deal with change, accept what is inevitable and turn adversity into opportunity.

Transformational coaching focuses on who you want to be, beyond what you want to achieve.

This moment in time is an opportunity to revisit ourselves and redefine who we want to be in this situation: do we want to be angry, criticizing everything and everyone all the time, just because we are mad at this pandemic? Do we want to discriminate against groups of people who have nothing to do with this virus and heighten the feelings of not belonging?

Or do we want to work on ourselves, reshape our beliefs, help out where we can, and trust that solidarity and cooperation will bring us back to safety and freedom?

As coaches, we can help your clients figure this out.

We can coach the pandemic angst.


Sara Guerreiro is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), by the International Coach Federation, who splits her time between human rights consulting, training and coaching people around the world.


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