Like many of you, seeing this past week's events unfold, I started to get worried about all aspects of life - from the financial and job markets, to parents over 60, to being locked up for days at home, to potentially getting the virus.

The confusing messages coming through only made things worse. And then, I remembered a strategy I successfully employed every time when things outside my control went haywire: take stock of things I can control. Then, everything calmed down and focus returned.

Here are few ideas by categories of fear:

  • Working from home (when you are not used to it):
    • Use the commute time to:
      • Work out. Use YouTube video tutorials for anything from yoga to calisthenics, to free weights.
      • Go for a walk in the neighborhood or find trails around your house.
      • Do 20-minute meditations. It's amazing how much few minutes of meditation clear your mind.
      • Read something uplifting or educational.
      • Learn a new language (Duolingo is awesome for this and it's free).
      • Learn a new skill for fun or for your career advancement. Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, MasterClass, and Udacity are few options available. Most of the content is free or available for a minimal fee. And, yes, there is always YouTube "University".
    • Set up a small area in your house that is your work sanctuary. Here are ideas of really cool home office spaces. Or search Pinterest's home office ideas (just make sure you don't get sucked into it for hours).
    • Stand up during calls. And walk around if it's not a video call.
    • Increase your internet speed. With many people working from home and kids being out of school, your Internet connect will quickly become inadequate. Consider bumping your connection to the next level.
    • Take 5-minute breaks. Do few pushups or 1-minute plank or jump rope. Or, better yet, turn up the volume and dance to an upbeat song. Just get your body moving to replace the walking you do while at the office.
  • Business loses:
    • Repackage your offering. Think of how to serve other types of customers in market segments or geographies you haven't previously considered. If your product is modular, select only the modules that might serve that new market. If it's not, think about how people would be using it differently.
    • Amplify your online presence. This is a perfect time to start cranking relevant content for your customers and prospects. Chances are that, like you, they have extra time to read more.
    • Create virtual trade shows. Can't go to trade shows and conferences anymore? Use virtual events platforms like Run the World, Hopin, 6Connex, or Hexafair to accomplish the same thing.
    • Add e-commerce or self-serve, if you don't already have these options. While the virus will be defeated at some point, chances are the future will be a lot more virtual and digital than has ever been.
    • Think and develop new products/services. Use the time and the constraints to develop better, more affordable products and/or fill a niche market opened by this situation.
    • Develop paid training. Always wanted to sell online training but never got the time to do it? Now, you do. Think about how you can help others, now that they too have more time on their hands.
  • Losing a full time job:
    • List 21 things you can do to make money, regardless how long they might take in reality.
    • Start that side project you kept putting it off.
    • Continue posting on LinkedIn and your own blog, if you have one.
    • Consider starting one, if you don't have one.
    • Write articles for industry publications.
    • Reconnect with old friends and former colleagues.
  • Aging parents:Have groceries and essentials delivered to them to eliminate physical contact.
    • Check with them daily or more frequently than you normally do. Get your siblings (if you have any) or other members of the family to join in 3-way calls.
    • Get them a streaming video subscription, if they don't already have one and suggest they watch less news.

Stay safe and healthy.