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The New Normal of Food Shopping: Four EQ Skills that Help me Manage


Most of us juggle, work demands, family responsibilities and personal challenges and to add to all of that, we been blindsided by a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that has added even more triggers that call upon our resilience.

Recently, I ventured out to do some food shopping. I had not been out for 10 days and we were running low on several essential items. I was shocked at how much things had changed in 10 days.

Upon approaching my neighborhood food store, I saw a line of people the entire width of the store --- wow --- I had no idea. So, there I was, Clorox wipes in one hand and a mask on my face, wondering would there be anything left by the time I would be allowed to enter the store. As I advanced along slowly moving to the next line of tape on the ground that was meant to keep us 6 feet apart, I was becoming teary-eyed. The experience was surreal. After 20 minutes I had made it to the store entrance, I was given a shopping cart that had been sprayed and wiped with what I hoped was enough to protect me. Not taking any chances, I used one of my own wipes, saving the other one for wiping my hands occasionally while shopping.

It was in the very moment that I entered the food store, I realized what I had known as my predictable world had been forever changed. I saw empty shelves where there had once been an abundance of supplies, plexiglass surrounded the cashiers, and the music that once played over the store speakers had now been replaced with regular announcements reminding us to stay 6 feet apart. The announcements included examples of what 6 feet might look like, such as 2 shopping carts apart.

Here are the four emotional intelligence skills that helped me choose effective responses to my experience that supported my resilience:

  • Interpersonal Relationship - This can be defined as our ability to give and receive trust and compassion while maintaining a satisfying relationship. A connection with another person. While standing in line, I called my daughter and explained a situation which was totally outside of my control and her calm voice and compassionate nature helped me navigate the line.

  • Flexibility - This can be defined as having the ability to adjust emotions and behaviors to a changed situation and adapt by adjusting our approach. When I entered the store, I was overwhelmed and did not know what to do next. I was feeling fear and did not want to act from that feeling of fear as I had already observed enough of that watching people hoard toilet paper. Instead, I relied on my flexibility when taking in new information and kept my mind on my shopping list and begin placing only the items I needed in my shopping cart.

  • Stress Tolerance - This can be defined as our ability to live our life shouldering stress without getting overwhelmed. I engaged in some deep breathing exercises and continued along staying with what I could control which was my gratitude that there is still food to purchase.

  • Optimism - This is defined as our ability to see the brighter side of life and gives us hope to see the future as positive. I began to look for opportunities in unexpected places. I kept my focus on what creative meals I could prepare based on what I was able to find while shopping. I hope you somehow found this article helpful. Always remember there is a common thread for each of us during this challenging time and our stories matter. Be safe. Be healthy. Be Grateful. Credit for a new understanding of these skills and how they relate to and support resilience goes to Hile Rutledge, President of OKA. My definitions have been adapted slightly from my EQ Certification materials and from Hile’s teachings on emotional intelligence and resilience.

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