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COVID-19 Anxiety: The Dive or Thrive Mindset

coping with covid-19 anxiety

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Author: Debi Talbert

Times are tough right now, there’s no doubt about it.

Every day, there’s more bad new, more job loss, more restrictions and more change from what we knew just a short 30 days ago. Full disclosure; I have an immune compromised body and have moments of being terrified.

Moments of fear

Yes, I have moments where fear seeps in and tries to take over. But this is NOT the first time in my life I have faced circumstances I did not want to experience or face. Circumstances that required me to transition, to live life in a whole new way. My first major life transition took place when my first husband left me and my two small children. The next was when I decided to rethink alcohol’s role in my life. Both times, my life was filled with incredibly anxious moments and worry about how I was going to survive. And now, again, I find myself dealing with another difficult situation with many dramatic changes with which to cope.

Spring of 2020, is a time of transition. Major transition.

The definition of transition is the process or a period of change from one state or condition to another. In a transition, our old ways come to an end, or at least a pause, some which might resume and others that require permanent change.

Change is unsettling. Before we move into acceptance, many of us experience grief and mourn our usual ways of being and doing. A lot of people turn to extreme amounts of alcohol, food, TV, phone scrolling, shopping to cope.

How are you coping?

Some of my clients returned to their old drinking patterns. Others, who were occasional drinkers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, now drink alcohol daily. And not just one drink.

Times of transition lead to fear, uncertainty and worry. Most of us struggle to accept the adjustments necessary in our world. We don’t know what the future brings. We only know our lives look different today than they did last year at this time.

The “Dive or Thrive Mindset”

The way I see it, we have only two options to deal with a difficult situation when we cannot continue our old way of life. When in the dive mindset, we hold tightly onto our old ways and resist changes. In the thrive mindset, we are hopeful and open to possibility. Do you have a “dive” or a “thrive mindset?

I came up with this theory, and its name, when forced to transition from wife to divorcee. The situation reminded me of the Titanic; like the giant ship out to sea that cruised calmly and peacefully until it hit the iceberg, my marriage seemed to sail along smoothly…until it didn’t. I was not aware my marriage was in jeopardy until the day my husband definitively announced he did not want to stay married. The option to continue life as before was no longer available, which is also the case today, during the pandemic.

Our mindset determines how we transition through major life change.

With any journey of change, we control our responses. If we choose the dive mentality, we don’t acknowledge the reality and continue to try to live as before. We live in a highly emotional state of worry and stress. When we refuse to transition to cope with unavoidable change, we are more likely to “hit the iceberg” and cause more problems down the road.

When we instead choose the thrive mindset, we allow ourselves to be cautiously optimistic, determined, curious and hopeful. This mindset is a much healthier one that leads to a more positive future than the dive mentality.

4 Components of the Dive or Thrive Mindset

1. Emotional delegation vs. emotional ownership

Dive mindset: Assign blame for how you feel to an external situation which leads to feelings of powerlessness.

Thrive mindset: Take responsibility for your emotions which leads to feelings of empowerment.

2. Exercise external control vs internal control

Dive mindset: You seek out external factors to help you feel better. Examples are alcohol, TV, Food, social media, shopping and/or trying to control the behavior of other people – external control.

Thrive mindset: You pause to ask yourself who you want to be, and decide how to show up the way you truly want to be seen during the transition – internal control

3.  Resist the new reality vs. relax into the new reality

Dive mindset: Ignore the changes forced upon you which leads to feeling stuck.

Thrive mindset: Accept the changes which allows you to consider next steps

4. Focus on potential future problems vs deal with current challenges

Dive mindset: Worry and obsess about worse case scenarios which lead to fear

Thrive mindset: Seek to find solutions for present day problems in order to successfully move forward

The bottom line

Know that you we move in and out of these two mindsets all along our journeys of transition. That’s just the way our brains operate. It’s important to recognize where you are at any given time. When in the dive mindset, take action to move back into the thrive mindset. You may be able to redirect your frame of mind on your own, but if not, seek professional help.

The covid-19 pandemic is a time of great difficulty. It affects many people in a large variety of ways. Take care of yourself; you can help others only if you become emotionally and physically healthy first.


Debi Talbert


Debi Talbert is a Certified Life Coach with The Life Coach School and This Naked Mind Institute. She coaches the 50 plus individual who is exhausted trying to figure out how to end their dysfunctional relationship with alcohol. She helps people who struggle to stop drinking, but do not accept the labels of “alcoholic” or “powerless”.

Debi knows at a deeply personal level that Life Coaching is transformative. She helps clients rebuild their trust in themselves and change their beliefs about life. She is the creator of Exit The Drinking Life podcast and offers online programs which include training videos and weekly live coaching sessions.In addition, she offers a monthly membership to teach you to coach yourself, teach you how to feel better, teach you to take massive action and flourish in life beyond alcohol. Find information about programs and resources at

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