Fight or Flight and The COVID-19 Pandemic

March 31, 2020

Fight or flight, a physiological response to  stress that is brought about by a perceived harmful event, attack of threat to survival.  COVID-19 has prompted this human survival instinct in all of us.  Fight, we feel immense anger about what the virus is doing to our loved ones, our own health, our education system, our health care system and our very own livelihood.  Flight, we feel helpless, victims to this virus that we’ve been told the only action that we can take is inaction by staying at home and sheltering in place.  We have become hoarders.  We can’t see a way out. 

Fight or Flight is meant for survival.  It is a needed protective response; however, staying in a place of fight or flight for an extended period of time can be harmful for our mental, physical, and spiritual health.  Our bodies and minds are not meant to carry the hormone rush for lengthy periods of time.  Also, and perhaps most importantly during this time of unprecedented change, prolonged fight or flight keeps us from having the ability to see opportunity and choice, to find creative ways to earn money, to stay healthy, and to move forward. 

What can you do to step away from being stuck in  fight or flight in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis?

Here are some ideas to try:

  • Step away from your emotions. Try to look at your emotions from an objective point of view, as you would watching someone else’s story unfold. What are your emotions trying to tell you?  Where do  your feelings stem from – is it based on experiences in the past?  Use your emotions as a tool to help you figure out where your greatest needs and desires lie.  A tool is something that we use to help us fix problems, complete tasks, and navigate the mechanics of a problem. 
  • Once you have moved away from your emotions, grab two pieces of paper.  Brainstorm.  List your concerns and your goals.  Make two lists:  On one sheet, list the simplest solutions or steps that you can take.  What is the easiest goal to reach? On the second sheet, list the more difficult solutions or the most challenging steps that you could take. What are your loftiest goals? Then, sit back and look at the easiest steps, the simplest of answers. What is one easy step that can you take today?  Often the easiest answers, the simplest steps, are the ones that lead you to where you want to be and allow you to let go of the anxiety and paralysis by analysis.  
  • Try journaling. Make a list of at least 5 positive learning points from this COVID-19 experience or 5 opportunities that you now have that you did not have before the pandemic.  Even the small things count.  For example, “I was able to get more needed sleep in this week because I did not have to wake up early to get into the office,” or “Now I can focus on figuring out what I am passionate about and pursue a career in my dream field.” 

Maybe, your list looks like :

  1. I’ve slept in more days this week than I have in years!  
  2.  I was able to stay up later and spend time with my family members.
  3.  I’m not alone. There are people around me that are experiencing what I am.
  4. I am healthy.
  5. I have an opportunity to reinvent myself.
  •  Take the time to make an at-home ritual.  Small rituals can turn into habits that influence the mind. For example, if you are not already, start a gratitude practice.   Before you go to bed – the last thought in your mind should be a gratitude statement.  Maybe it is being grateful for your family, your home, or simply that you survived today.   
  • Keep an Opportunity Journal.  As you start to brainstorm what opportunities may exist, write them down throughout the day. 
  • Ask for help.  And help others.
  • Look around at other people and recognize that there are people worse off than you – this can help you get out of that victim state by focusing on others who are less fortunate. You may also notice opportunities that others have, which can be the catalyst for new ideas of your own. Sometimes, it is easier for us to looks at someone’s else’s situation and to see  their opportunity than it is to recognize our own because we are so emotionally invested in what we are experiencing.
  • Remember, It is important to physically do things even if you don’t want to.  The mind influences the physical, the physical also influences the mind.  If you are feeling down and you don’t want to exercise or you don’t want to socialize on a social video platform,  force yourself too.  Make it a habit.  Decide every day that you are going to exercise for at least 15 minutes and socialize virtually with a friend or a family member. 

Join the 50/50 Friendship Flow Challenge.  (  There is no better time than now to reach out to people and tell them what you’ve learned from them, what they mean to you.  As we have seen, life can change overnight.  Let’s not let another day go by that we don’t share with someone how important they are to us. 

An Imperfectly Perfect Life is offering free life coaching for women during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This offer currently extends through April 30, 2020. We’re in this together. Please visit the website ( for scheduling. 

*If you are feeling anxiety, grief, or depression, please reach out to a licensed psychologist, counselor, social worker, or mental health professional.  Your mental health is important. 

your design

I'll be your guide through obstacles, transitions, and your path to achieving an imperfectly perfect life, your BEST life!

Take charge of your life.

your life