Coronavirus: Crisis or challenge – does it really make a difference which word we use? The short answer is yes it does, but why? Surely whichever word we use it comes down to the same thing doesn’t it? Let me explain why this isn’t the case.

Firstly let’s look at a couple of definitions:

Crisis – “A time of intense danger, difficulty, or doubt”

Challenge – “A new or difficult situation or task that tests somebody’s ability and skill”

There is clearly a different focus in these definitions; the first seems quite final with no suggestion of a resolution, while the second talks of ability and skill.

For many weeks now we have been fed a constant message about a potential, or actual, Coronavirus Crisis. The word crisis has been in front of us in the print media, on social media, broadcast media, and as a regular topic of conversation. Much of the time this has then been left hanging, with no suggestion of how things may, or may not play out. No clear guidance, indeed no guidance at all until recently, about how we might individually be able to save ourselves from this ‘crisis’ or at the very least mitigate it’s impact.

This focus on impending doom has resulted in a huge rise in feelings of helplessness with people creating high levels of anxiety and stress. This has now led to panic buying and a general atmosphere of panic, as many of us go into a period of self isolation when we will miss our usual levels of human contact to help us cope.

One of the unintended consequences of promoting an atmosphere of anxiety and stress is that it actually makes us more vulnerable to illness and infection; the one thing we are trying to avoid! Why should this be?

When we become anxious and stressed we trigger responses in our brain and trigger a Fight or Flight response. Our brains release hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline in order to make us best able to react to the perceived danger. This is fine if we are able to calm things down pretty quickly once the danger is past.

The problem comes when we suffer anxiety and stress for prolonged periods so we are constantly in a state of heightened response. Under these circumstances our normal immune system is compromised and less able to fight off the very infection, virus, or illness we are anxious about.

There is a far better, and ultimately, healthier way in which we can respond to the current situation. Forget all talk about a crisis and view the Coronavirus outbreak as a challenge. There is no doubt we are in for some challenging times so why not face up to that challenge and work through it?

Most people regularly set themselves challenges voluntarily and celebrate their efforts and successes in tackling them. We see photos and posts on social media illustrating how people are doing with their challenges; it is seen as a positive, empowering thing to do.

As we start on a period of significant disruption to our normal day to day lives put aside thoughts of crisis and focus instead on the challenges you can set yourself. These may relate to your home and family, your job, business, or anything else you can think of, but whatever they are be sure to approach them with a determination to succeed and recognising that you can make something positive from the current situation.

For the next few weeks it looks as though many of us will have extra time on our hands, putting it to good use will keep us well, both physically and mentally. Who knows what can be achieved if you think about it?

Learning to Thrive would be a great way to really put time to good use. It only takes a few weeks and consultations are easy to conduct via Skype. I am going to spend the next few weeks thriving and helping others to do the same.

Why not message me for more information and an informal Skype conversation?


I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

About the author
Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formSubmit