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Help with stress
The coronavirus outbreak around the World has created a high level of uncertainty, stress, fear, anxiety and panic for many people. These emotions are your body's natural responses to a crisis and can become overwhelming. You may feel continuously in a state of high alert, responding immediately to every new piece of information, without thinking clearly or rationally and you may be creating lots of negative type scenarios in your mind about what may happen.
So, what can you do to manage this stress, fear and anxiety in these very uncertain times? Here are some tips and strategies that may help you:
Recognise, acknowledge and accept how you are feeling. Allow yourself time to notice and express how you are feeling. Talk to others and share how you are feeling or write things down to make sense of your thoughts. Accept that it is okay to feel like this and it is your body's natural reaction to the circumstances. Once you recognise, acknowledge and accept how you are feeling you can start to think about the next steps.
Focus on the things that you can control. There is a lot of uncertainty and there are many things outside of your control, including how long this will last, what the media are reporting, how other people behave and what the outcome will be. If you focus on things outside your control you will continue to feel stressed, fearful and anxious. Think about what you can control and focus only on these things e.g. your daily routine, your work, following the government guidelines, supporting your friends, family and neighbours etc. You may find yourself getting distracted but keep bringing yourself back to only what you can control. This will enable you to move forward more positively and feel more in control.
Understand where you are. Take stock of your situation, understanding where you are with all aspects of your life including your work, business, finances, family, health, home etc. This will enable you to understand exactly where you are, understand the risks and be able to take decisions and action from a sound position.
Plan the action you are going to take. Plan what you are going to do on a daily basis in your personal life and work, focusing on the areas you can control. You will need to be flexible with your planning as things may change as the coronavirus outbreak continues. Try and keep your planning shorter term so that you feel in control, this may be as simple as a plan as to what you are going today, creating your plan for tomorrow at the end of today. Having a plan for all areas of your life will help you feel more in control and calmer, as well as giving you something to refer back to.
Take action and be decisive on the things you can control. When you are stressed and anxious it is very difficult to take action and be decisive, but taking action and being decisive will in itself calm you down. Try taking small actions first to get started. By taking action on the things you can control you will start to feel much more in control and you will start making progress.
Pay attention to the facts and limit exposure to news and social media. It is understandable to want to keep informed but constantly accessing the news and social media can unnecessarily intensify your stress and anxiety. Gather accurate information about the current situation from credible sources such as the World Health Organisation and Government websites. Try and limit your exposure to the news and social media where there is lots of speculation and it is often difficult to ascertain the facts. Where you want to check the news, have set times in the day when you do so. By doing this you will reduce your stress and anxiety and allow yourself to focus on the things you can control.
Follow government advice. The Government has recommended important actions to take to protect against infection and prevent the coronavirus from spreading that you should adhere to. Follow this advice as it will help to protect you and your family and the rest of society.
Stay connected. Stay connected with family and friends and your work colleagues and contacts. You may be working from home or not able to visit your family and friends but there are many ways to keep communication going. Connecting with each other has a powerful effect on helping you cope with challenges through talking, mutual support and reassurance.
Support others. Everybody in society is going through an unprecedented situation will lots of uncertainty and restrictions on what you can do. Consider who you can offer help and support to. This may include your family and friends, neighbours, local businesses and your work connections. It may be a friendly conversation or helping someone with their shopping who is self-isolating. Helping others and knowing that those you care about are safe and cared for will help you feel less stressed and anxious.
Take care of yourself. Some areas you may want to action here are establishing a routine, doing activities you enjoy, exercising, eating properly, relaxation practices and sleep. Looking after yourself will have a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings and if you are in good mental and physical shape you will be in a much better place to handle the current situation.
Control your thinking. How you think impacts how you feel and behave and the way you think can cause you to make inaccurate assessments of your experiences, to get the wrong end of the stick, to jump to conclusions, to think the worst, to distort the facts and it can get in the way of your decision making. It is easy to create worst case scenarios but stop yourself and go back to just thinking about today. You may think that you have no control over your thinking but by noticing what you are thinking about and taking action on those thoughts you will start to think less about them.
Trust your knowledge, experience and intuition. It is easy to panic and forget to utilise all the knowledge and experience you already have. Remind yourself of the resources you have and trust your knowledge, experience and intuition to help you make the best decisions.
Ask for help and support. If you are struggling to cope with the current situation whether at work or at home, seek help and support. This can not only provide practical assistance but also reassurance too.
Hopefully this article will have given you some ideas as to how to manage stress, fear and anxiety during this period of uncertainty.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: March 2020
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including anxiety management, communication, resilience, soft skills, stress management, time management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
Please email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk to arrange a FREE consultation session to discuss our business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services for business owners, directors, managers and professionals.