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Coping with Anxiety and Uncertainty

Psychiatrist and best-selling author Bram Bakker explains our collective anxiety about the COVID-19 crisis; what exacerbates our reaction and what the best counter-remedies to anxiety are likely to be. Based on his vast experience, he also shares his view of our potential future as an online society, and what that would mean for businesses and organizations.

Psychiatrist and best-selling author Bram Bakker on anxiety, control and cure

Key insights

  • The real reason behind the current anxiety is not COVID-19 but loss of control: As a society we became accustomed to a feeling of predictability and complete control over our life. We are not used to uncertainty, over which we have no control. Therefore, when we feel we have no grip over the situation, we become very anxious. The reactions of government and big corporations and the media enhance this sense of anxiety.

  • Right now the most helpful coping mechanism is living in the here and now: Feeling alright today is the best tactic for coping with uncertainty. Don’t focus on planning for the future, because the future is unknown. Focus instead on what you can do, day by day, to de-stress and feel more comfortable in yourself.

  • Comforting feelings and a connection to the people around us are a better answer to anxiety than rational thinking: The rational brain shrinks away when anxiety takes over. Humans are social beings that derive comfort from other humans. Tender, loving care (TLC) is, from babyhood and throughout life, our most basic need in times of fear.

  • Online connection is, and always will be, second best: We are social beings who need sensory interaction (touch, smell, feel, look) with other humans. Online connection is an imitation of the real thing.

  • Managers, pay attention: Automatization of processes, increased efficiency and excellent planning are all important qualities for a manager, but not at the expense of personal, human connection with and care for your employees.

Dive deeper

Can you do what Martin can?

To help you keep your energy levels high and stay positive throughout your day it is essential to take breaks regularly. To help you get more out of your downtime, Martin Pet, a seasoned sport and performance psychologist and physiologist, will challenge you to perform a wide range of exercises that will do just that.

Martin Pet challenges you: what exercise are you going to do while you wait for your cup of coffee?
Find out how he does it and why
Coffee, thee or water breaks are great to relax your body and mind for a couple of minutes. Back in the days you might have had small talks with some colleagues you would have met in the coffee corner at the office. Now many people work at home, so that has have changed radically. However, this leaves space for a different way to enrich your coffee break, with exercises for example. While your coffee runs down the machine, you have a nice opportunity to do some squats, knee lifts or push-ups like Martin shows in today’s video. More movement is not only about more sports, it’s first of all about more movement throughout the day. The options are limitless, as soon as you start noticing all those short time frames during the day. Just seize the moment and you’ll be a lot more efficient, effective and you will enjoy your coffee even more.

About the crew member

Bram Bakker • Psychiatrist and author
Bram Bakker

Bram is a psychiatrist, publisher and publicist. He regularly writes about healthcare and his passion, running. Published author of multiple books, including Verademing, Blijf beter, Geluk uit een potje and Sporten voor beginners. He has led a two day running therapy course for years, and is often on tour with his theatre show Burned-out.

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