The outbreak of COVID-19 has been a challenge for many people. It has led to fear, worry and stress because it is a situation that is unpredictable, uncontrollable and chronic. Learning ways to cope with these painful emotions will help you and the people you care about manage these times.

1. Morning ritual. Start the day in a proactive, peaceful and calming manner. It can lead to a stressful start of the day when you listen to the news, jump on your phone or tend to email first thing in the morning. Instead, intentionally develop a morning practice that will start you off on a positive note. Try reading, meditating, journaling, sitting quietly, practicing yoga, exercising, being in nature, or listening to calm music. A morning ritual will set the foundation for the day, giving you a relaxed, clearer mind and a strong mental state to handle challenging situations.

2. One-word theme. A one-word theme is a single word that you choose for the day, week, month or year to guide your thoughts, words and actions. Some examples are grace, flow, peace, focus, presence, joy or kindness. When you set an intention to live by your word theme it becomes a guiding force towards a positive mindset.

3. Focus on what you love, appreciate and are grateful for. What you focus on, you feel. So, when you focus on the things that trigger your negative emotions, you feel bad. To counteract this, change your focus to things that you love, appreciate and are grateful for. Evoke positive emotions by thinking of things such as your family, pets, or good health. The human brain cannot hold two opposing emotions at the same time. By intentionally focusing on what you are grateful for, you will naturally feel better.

4. Peace begins with me. It helps to physically disrupt your negative emotional patterns. An easy technique is to focus your attention on your fingers. Start by tapping your thumb to your index finger, next your thumb to your middle finger, then your thumb to your ring finger and end with your thumb to your little finger. While tapping, recite the phrase “peace begins with me” (one word at a time) while tapping out the sequence. Repeat this several rounds until you feel a calming sensation.

5. Begin with the end in mind. Take some time to reflect on what you want to look back on when you get beyond this current situation. Ask yourself questions like “What am I proud of?” “How do I want to remember myself in terms of my role as a parent, spouse, friend, son, daughter, co-worker, or community member?”, “What inner strength did I draw upon?” This will guide your thoughts and actions towards being your best self — despite the circumstances.

Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and adventure marathoner. For questions or to submit questions or ideas for future columns, please contact her at or 218-729-0772.