March 17, 2020
Over the last couple of months, the world has had to respond to a public health crisis. Once the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 an official pandemic, the news cycle kicked into high gear, and panic ensued as consumers made a run on the grocery stores in preparation for quarantine.
If the information overload and uncertainty are causing you or your team anxiety, know that you’re not alone. It’s normal for people to feel stress when faced with the disruption of work, school, and other routine activities.
Still, stress does not have to be the enemy; with the right mindset, stress can become your best friend. Here are a few strategies for managing stress during times of chaos and uncertainty.
Whether the uncertainty is a result of a global health crisis, economic downturn, natural disaster, or political upheaval, transparency from business leaders can give employees peace of mind. Communicate with your team early and often about how the event or circumstances affect the business, and how that might impact the employee experience.
One of the gifts of the yoga and mindfulness movement is the mainstreaming of breathing techniques that help calm and regulate the nervous system. Alternate nostril breathing is a proven breathing exercise for reducing stress by bringing the brain and nervous system into balance. Want something even simpler? Just pause and take a few deep inhales and exhales.
Uncertainty is often stressful because there are so many unknowns. None of us can control the external circumstances, let alone the social, economic, and political fall-out of a pandemic. Instead of worrying about large scale issues outside of your control—focus on what you can. Make sure you get enough sleep and eat good, nutritious food. Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do.
Even if you’re avoiding crowds there’s likely to be a park, trail, bike path, or back street where you can spend some time outside. Going outside is an easy way to practice social distancing, without having to be entirely alone—unless you chose to be. Exercise also helps improve both your physical and mental health; and spending time in the sun ensures you get a needed dose of Vitamin D.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, and peers during this time, especially if you’re low on essentials or just need someone to talk to. There are also apps like TalkSpace which can connect you with a mental health pro wherever you are, and Priizm, which can connect you with a certified life or business coach for a fraction of the cost of traditional coaching. The Shine app for stress management even created an entire landing page dedicated to helping you manage your Coronavirus anxiety.
You don’t have to wait for a crisis to use these tips and techniques. In fact, having a good self-care practice can make all the difference when the big challenges arise. Try a few things and stick with the things that help you feel healthy, happy, and sane. And remember that even during this period of social distancing, you are not alone. We will get through this—together.
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