Insights and advice for managing uncertainty

April 22, 2020 Providence News Team


In this article:

  • How consumers’ concerns about COVID-19 have evolved from abstract and distant to personal and immediate.

  • Why there is actually no “normal” response to the circumstances we’re facing in the wake of the pandemic.

  • Providence physician Robin Henderson, executive director of Behavioral Health at Providence Oregon, shares 5 tips to help you stay grounded when anxiety, worry, or fear take hold.

Coronavirus brought with it a new level of fear and uncertainty. Being worried is a normal reaction to crisis situations.

Consumers across the world are legitimately worried about their current state as well as their future. They’re worried about getting care for non-coronavirus (COVID-19) chronic conditions. They’re worried about how to keep their jobs, and those that have lost their jobs are trying to find a way to support themselves and their families. They are worried about the wellness and health of themselves, their kids and their aging parents. They are worried for the caregivers who are working on the frontlines trying to save lives.

The threat is real, and while it’s easy to say we’ll get through this together, the worry remains.

Most pandemics follow the same progression from warning of its existence to recovery. The image below showcases the different stages, and the red box indicates our state at the height of the crisis. Consumer concerns tend to evolve alongside the evolution of any given pandemic, and COVID-19 is no exception.

Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, conducted a survey to capture insights on consumer fears. The results gathered between March 3-5, 2020, and March 18-20, 2020, demonstrate the evolution of consumers’ concerns around coronavirus as shown in the chart below.

Source: Gartner “Early-April 2020 Update: Marketers, Solve for Consumers’ Most Urgent COVID-19 Fears,” Consumer and Culture Insights Team, 30 March 2020

We believe the findings suggest that over the three weeks in March, consumer concerns evolved from the abstract and moderately urgent to the personal and highly urgent as the virus spread deeper across the United States.

The concerns outlined in the Gartner surveys became reality. Many aisles in grocery stores, especially the paper products and disinfectant aisles, were bare. Local businesses of all types shuttered their doors, and communities were on lockdown. The economic impact of COVID-19 is going to continue to be felt for many months – perhaps years – to come.

As we embrace our new normal (which we all hope is temporary) and come to grips with the uncertain realities during and after the time of COVID-19, it’s important to remember this health crisis won’t last forever. For sure, some of the changes ushered in by COVID-19 are likely to change the fabric of societies the world over, but humans are an innovative lot and we will adapt. We will continue to embrace new modes of working. We will reprioritize how and where we spend our time. We will learn new skills. And we will learn to connect with each other in new, equally meaningful ways.

On the notion of “normal,” Robin Henderson, M.D., executive director of Providence Behavioral Health at Providence Oregon, summed it up this way: “There is no normal way to deal with what’s happening. This has really never happened in our lifetime. To have a global shutdown…to have all our students out of school for an indefinite period of time. In this event, we can’t come together in the same ways we’re used to, so there’s no normal way to respond.”

It’s okay to be concerned, afraid even. However, in these uncertain times it’s important to find ways to stay grounded for your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Here are a few tips we’ve found helpful:

  • Stay connected: Set up a recurring video chat with your friends or (gasp!) call your parents.
  • Document your feelings: Start journaling, and if you have kids get them to journal with you.
  • Keep a routine: If you listened to podcasts on your way to work or hit the gym before checking emails, keep doing that.
  • Get involved: Whether through donations, making masks, or simply using your social channels to say thank you to those on the frontline.
  • Explore: Try a new recipe, build a birdhouse with your kid(s), or walk on a new trail (practicing social distancing, of course).

We know this is hard and everybody’s situation is different. You're not alone.

We are here for you.

Remember, if you need care don't delay it. COVID does not mean your chronic conditions take a break, and we want you to know we're ready to provide you with the best care you deserve in the safest way possible. 

Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence


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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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