We are here now.
We won’t be here forever.
We are already building momentum.
We will overcome it soon.
The events that evolved in this first part of the year were a strike for everyone: individuals, families, brands, and institutions.
Expecting an economical crisis was a risk foreseen by most professionals in the past months. It’s life’s cyclicity. However, what nobody could see was the scale at which it happened and the way it did.
It hit fast, it scaled unexpectedly and the effects are felt by everyone. To put it in a different light, there’s a lot of skin in the game, as a renowned risk analyst, Nassim Taleb would say.
What is important for us to apprehend in these circumstances and why should BRANDS, in particular, use their voice more?
Let us start with understanding why we are experiencing mood switches and where the stress is coming from.
#1: Social connection seen as Addiction or Identity.
The social distancing process that we are going through these days can be compared with an addiction quitting-effects.
Human beings are inherently social creatures. As far back as we can look, people hunted, traveled and thrived in social groups. If thousands of years ago, being part of a community was a survival tactic, today it became a personality criteria. The communities we join became parts of our identity.
Therefore, for those individuals who haven’t figured out who they are yet, isolation can create a deeper pressure, if the lack of community connection is correlated with identity loss.
Furthermore, a study conducted at a free health clinic in Buffalo, New York found that respondents with insufficient perceived social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
The lack of social connection was found to generate similar effects with those experienced by drug addicts in the abstinence periods.
#2: We are pushed to learn.
The vast majority of achievers perceive the out-of-comfort-zone experiences as growth opportunities. However, most times, these challenges happen under the sharp observation of our own control. We decide to put ourselves in these uncomfortable situations because we want to learn and evolve.
But what happens when these situations occur without a prior notice? We get stressed.
Being uncomfortable doesn’t seem so tied to evolution anymore and the learning opportunities lost their compelling sauce, all of a sudden.
All these moments are still learning experiences, yet it is hard to see them in such a way until you feel that you are off the hook.
Remember this is not your first “life exam”, so take a pen and start writing down what you are experiencing and what would have helped you to go easier. Your answers will set-up your cope-up plan for similar situations in the future.
- How is this challenge affecting you?
- What is it that you wish you would know more in this context?
- What are your strengths regarding this?
- What can you do to transform it into an opportunity?
#3: We are facing lots of changes in a short period of time.
In the late 1960s, psychiatrists Richard Rahe and Thomas Holmes set out to determine how stressful life-changes affected health via the stress response experiment.
- They examined over 5,000 patients’ records to see if they could correlate stressful life events with illness.
- The results: led to acknowledge that stress can lead to numerous physiological changes. When you experience stress, your body releases many chemicals and hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare you to fight or flight.
- It passes: once the perceived threat disappears, the hormones leave your system and your body function reverts to normal.
Unfortunately, the body can’t differentiate between the stress generated from an immediate physical threat and stress caused due to life changes.
The American Psychological Association notes that because of these changes, chronic stress can contribute to a number of health problems such as: poor immune function, insomnia, anxiety or depression.
Now remember that stressful life-changes don’t happen on a daily basis, they are usually exceptional moments that occur at critical moments of your life: losing your job, facing bankruptcy, losing someone you love, being forced to move to a different city and start a new life & so on.
These days, you’ve been experiencing more than just one change such as the ones above, and for some of us, all at once:
- Feeling concerned about our health.
- Feeling concerned for our families.
- Feeling uncertain about our businesses/jobs.
- Feeling uncertain about our future.
- Our activities changed through quarantine limitations.
- Our nutrition probably changed as well.
- We can’t meet our friends.
- The quality of our sleep is reduced due to all these stressful thoughts and the list can continue.
The point is not to amplify your fears, but to understand that it is normal to feel a bit low since you are experiencing all these changes at once. Some of the listed above are not in your control to change.
The good part, though, is that most of them are and that is where you’ll find the opportunities.
…WHY SHOULD BRANDS USE THEIR VOICE NOW MORE THAN ANY OTHER TIME?
Because people are looking up to see their leaders standing up in times of struggle.
Brands are deeply immersed in our lives, since we consume them on a daily basis. Whether it is our favourite watches brand, a media trust on our regular reads list or someone we appreciate a lot, powerful brands prove their leadership core in hard times, as well as they do in the good ones.
And that is because leadership takes courage.
It takes courage to make bold moves that transform a business, the same way it takes courage to stand strong during a storm and lookup for the people you lead.
It is now that brands should be louder than ever through their actions, for they are impacting thousands of communities around the world.
It is in these moments when brands have a huge opportunity to reinforce their relationship with the people they speak for.
And it takes courage, a quality that is neither an intellectual skill nor can it be taught in the classroom. It can only be gained through one’s experiences of personal risk-taking.
So, look around you and notice the people and companies that are brave enough to decide on taking action, despite all the odds that seem to be against humanity these days.
It is a decision of courage after all, and when it comes to it, they say this journey of courage it’s probably the hardest to take yet the shortest to make: an 18 inches trip from your head to your heart.