Cancelled by COVID-19: Managing Disappointment

In addition to fear and anxiety, COVID-19 is causing many to struggle with feelings of disappointment. Whether it is a cancelled celebration or a postponed vacation, disappointment emerges out of an unexpected sense of loss. If not managed in a healthy way, disappointment can lead to feelings of sadness and depression. Below are steps to help work through feelings of disappointment.

Step 1: Give yourself permission to be disappointed. Adults are generally uncomfortable with negative emotions and there is a tendency to try to rush past them. However, if you allow yourself to experience the disappointment, as well as other feelings that may accompany it, like sadness and anger, you stand a better chance of being able to process your feelings in a healthy way. As you learn how to move through negative emotions rather than circumventing them, you help strengthen your personal resilience.

Step 2: Find support. As the old adage goes, “Life is full of disappointments.” The plus side of this is when you share your disappointment with someone you trust, they likely will be able to relate. In addition, the person you share with can offer comfort and may help you gain additional perspective.

Step 3: Identify what you value. Disappointment tells what really matters. If you are dejected because your son’s graduation ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus quarantine, what does that reveal about what you care about? Is it a reflection of how proud you are of him or how eager you were to celebrate his achievement? Digging deeper and understanding what is at the root of your disappointment can be healthy. From there you can move on to other ways to honor what you value.

Step 4: Channel your disappointment. Once you uncover what you value, you can channel the energy of your disappointment to positive actions honoring that value. For the cancelled graduation, perhaps that means offering to spearhead a virtual graduation ceremony or creating a video with personal messages of congratulations.

Step 5: Seek perspective. Try to reflect on something positive about the situation. While you do not have the power to change things outside of your control, you are able to control how you respond. If you are dealing with COVID-19 related disappointment, know that you are not alone and, like others, you have the ability to move beyond it.

Your Employee Assistance Program is a company-sponsored benefit that is free and completely confidential. If you are dealing with stress and anxiety related to COVID-19, please contact BHS at 800-245-1150.  BHS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.