Emotional Intelligence and the Virus

Updated 3/28/20

As a coach, here is my response to COVID-19 support the community.

I was a news producer for nine years. The news is commercial, which means they are encouraged to create articles according to your clicks and views. So click on articles that are helpful, that talk about solutions. Look for solutions in the headlines. As a community, if we click on articles that are helpful, then we’ll get more helpful articles because news producers will focus on providing them for us.

In an emotionally intelligent family, family members try to notice and respond to feelings in healthy ways. For example:

Tired? Sleep. Our brains are forming new pathways during this pandemic. We learn and problem-solve in our sleep. When we wake up, we have new ideas and perspectives. So, sleep. Take naps.

Sad? Cry. Snuggle with a blanket. Tell a friend. Pet a cat or dog.

Stressed? Make a list for each family member of what is soothing for them. Note: Soothing is not numbing (like television or wine or cookies). Truly soothing activities are things like talking to friends, taking a walk outside or snuggling. Numbing is ok, but eventually, you will also want to address your feelings so they can come up and out.

Happy? Try to find something to be happy about or grateful for. Put on a favorite song and dance.

Angry? Anger usually happens when you think you or someone else is getting hurt. It’s also usually accompanied by sadness. Try saying this, “The story I’m telling myself is…” and then problem-solve to address the story in healthy, helpful ways. If you’re very angry, breathe, take a break, and calm yourself first. Anger and upset do not have to be the same thing. Use your anger to give you the energy to take action that is helpful for you and those around you. (If you would like me to train you how to do this, contact me.)

Overwhelmed? This is usually a combination of feelings. Try to sort them out and identify the individual feelings. Also, sleeping can help with overwhelm.

Stress is contagious, but calm is contagious too. So adults, focus on your calm. Take breaks from the media and breathe.

When someone does have a moment of dis-regulation and loses their temper due to stress, there’s a very useful technique I teach called “Connect.” First, you stay calm. Then, you “connect” with their feelings, you notice how they are feeling. Third, you “connect” with their values, you notice what’s important to them. I created a PDF you can print to use at home. (Click here to download.) Here’s an example from yesterday:

I took my daughter to the creek. She didn’t want to leave and was rude to me. Instead of taking it personally and becoming angry at her, I breathed. I said, “You feel sad about leaving. You love spending time at the creek.” She calmed down.

Doing this takes practice, especially if you grew up in a family like the one of my childhood, where we didn’t talk about feelings at all. But, as a family learns to talk about the feelings and values going on underneath the upset, problems become much easier to solve.


Depending on the age of your children, decide how much information you want to share with them. Here’s a script, it’s how my husband and I have talked with our 8-year-old twins:

“There’s a bad sickness going around the world this year. This is the first time this has happened in our lifetimes; it’s not usually this bad. Many people are working together to slow down the spread, so we are staying home. Doing this will help the doctors help people who are really sick, and it will give them time to find medicines. A lot of people are stressed out by this, and we are a little stressed out too, so let’s all try to be gentle with each other during this time.”

Let your feelings teach you about your values. If you’ve felt worried recently, your feelings might be teaching you that you value these things:
Health & Safety
Love & Connection
Financial Stability
Write your values down on a piece of paper and stick it to the fridge. Focus on your values, and let them guide you in your decisions. For example, I value my health, so I’m continuing my exercise and healthy eating routines. What’s a small step you can take today based on your values?

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