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Retired Navy SEAL: Everyone can benefit from this thought exercise after the pandemic is over

Former Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf
Source: Andy Stumpf

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, it's impossible to predict when countries will open up again and life will return to normal, or as normal as it can be.

In the United States, "We are in it for a long haul, at least for another month or two," global health economist Eric Feigl-Ding predicted in late March. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci says we may never get back to "normal" after the pandemic.

When schools, restaurants and businesses reopen, and everyday life starts to look more like it used to, everyone can benefit from a little bit of reflection, former Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf tells CNBC Make It. "I would recommend doing a very objective review of how you behaved — how well prepared you were for this unscripted, unwanted stress," he says. 

Ask yourself questions like: Where did you fall short? What could you have done better?

Grade yourself on how you responded to the pandemic — and be brutally honest, says Stumpf. "If you give yourself a failing grade, which most people probably should, then that's the roadmap for you to make an improvement," he explains. This is not going to be the last high-stress situation you have to deal with.

The reason he expects a lot of poor evaluations is because "people aren't often pushed to that place where they truly are scared or worried or concerned. They don't have a practiced coping mechanism for the stress." As a result, many people are making emotional, rather than practical, decisions right now, like pulling out of the stock market or panic-buying toilet paper.

If the pandemic had more of an emotional and mental impact on you than you thought it would, that's OK, but think about how you would handle a similar, high-stress situation in the future. 

"You are presented with a choice," says Stumpf. "Do you want to work on closing the gap on that deficiency? … Or are you going to hope that it doesn't happen again?"

He recommends the former: Choose to take action. After all, "hope is not a very good strategy."

Don't miss: Retired Navy SEAL: Losing control of your emotions during a stressful situation like the COVID-19 pandemic can be 'dangerous'

Check out: The best credit cards of 2020 could earn you over $1,000 in 5 years

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