Today I’m feeling it. My heart is racing, my hands a little jittery. It’s hard to focus. Do you feel it, too? The build-up of the uncertainty around our lives. The continued adjustment of school-from-home while you live-at-work (or work-from-home). The consistent banter of what’s usually sibling rivalry has turned into clashes because they haven’t had a break from one another, and the restlessness because nobody has been able to truly get away from home. Let’s add some more stress on, because finances are tight. Oh, and it’s election day…
The anxiety of it all is physically manifesting in the way I feel, not to mention the shortness in my temper or the mood swings. So, what can we do to help each other? Here are some ideas to share with yourself, and your family, friends, coworkers and employees to cope:
Realize you can’t control it all. Get a piece of paper out and make two columns. In one, list the things going on that you cannot control. Write down everything that might come to mind, no matter how silly it might sound. Challenge yourself to be specific, rather than general, so that your thought gets out. In the other column, identify the things you can control. Again, be specific. When you have your list, fold it in half, so that the side where you don’t have an impact is hidden. Focus on the things where you can make a difference right now, at this moment.
Step away! If it’s a project that has you going over the edge in this trying time, then take a break from it. Sometimes it’s the few minutes, or an hour, that you aren’t thinking about it that brings clarity when you go to work on it again. Or maybe it’s just the continual rhetoric of emails and social media, in which case maybe it’s time to set some different boundaries for yourself for a while. Instead of spending hours checking various accounts and media sites, maybe try allowing 15 minutes a day.
Welcome humor! Here’s where an employer can really help their employees. Hold a contest for the best joke (worksite appropriate here of course). Or, maybe the HR department and supervisors can pull together to do regular intervals of jokes over the course of the next few days, or week. If you’re solo, send a joke to a friend and reminisce about a funny time you had with them, or simply find a funny video to watch. Laughter really is great medicine, and the benefits brought include strengthening your immune system, lifting moods, diminishing pain and can protect against stress and anxiety.
“Stay in your time zone”, as WebMD puts it. When feeling anxious, one’s mind is projecting forward in time to what “might happen”, “is likely to happen” or “will happen”. As I’m often told, I’m “borrowing a worry”. Coming back to the present moment to determine if there’s something I can do about it right now helps to ease the nervousness. Maybe it belongs in one column or another on the control list you made up above!
Of course, don’t forget the basics: breath deep. Get some exercise. Avoid sugar, alcohol and/or caffeine – the things that cause more jitters.
We have dealt with a lot in the last 9 months. Any of the things we’ve faced together would be enough for humans to handle, but here we are, taking it all on in the perfect storm of 2020. Let’s continue to do it together, in the calm after the storm way we’d like to see.