There is no doubt that this is a strange time. For many it’s overwhelming and stressful. With high levels of unemployment, small businesses going under, children at home from school and worry over loved ones getting coronavirus, anxiety is higher than ever. COVID-19 is seriously affecting mental health. As someone who works to equip people with the mental and behavioral competencies that make them more resilient, productive, and happier, here are a couple of things I myself have found helpful during this time!
1: Look at what you control.
In a state of uncertainty, and with many external stressors at play, look at what you can control for a sense of peace. I know I can’t control coronavirus, but I can control what I do and how I respond.
- Taking a sensible level of precautions. No, I am not wearing a hazmat suit. However, I am only going out when it is absolutely necessary, shopping for two weeks at a time to limit outings where there are lots of people, have a process for when returning from the store, wearing a mask, sanitizing, and washing my hands frequently. In this way, come what may, I know I have done all that is sensibly possible to limit my chances of getting the virus, for my own safety and for those around me in the home.
- Not reading everything and feeding the hype. Yes, I stay informed. However, I am not wasting time reading and believing everything out there. Data is nuanced, articles contradict each other, and there is a lot of click bait. This can lead to higher levels of unnecessary anxiety. The truth is, there are lots we do not know about the virus yet. You have to be ok with operating in the grey for now. This is where doing what is sensibly within your control plays a big role in feeling less stressed.
2: Know it’s ok not to have it all together.
If you didn’t have a moment free all morning between work and other responsibilities at this time, there is no need to have every strand of hair in place on a video call. And, that’s ok. If anyone is judging you, that’s on them. I simply do my best. I choose where I spend my minutes. This is not the time for additional pressure or self-imposed stress. It is important to reserve energy levels for everything else going on. The world is in this together so everyone understands that you couldn’t get to the hairdresser in a while 🙂
Prioritization is key. When there is not a pandemic, prioritization is important. Now, it is critical. Being able to focus on the daily key activities, understand what is actually priority uno, versus can-do, nice-to-do, and no-need-to-do, helps you maximize your capacity.
3: Find the minutes that matter.
Little minutes here and there that keep you sane and smiling are important. Especially when we are all cooped up. Looking out the window and daydreaming, watching a funny video, standing outside in the garden, deep breathing for a minute or having some extra moments of peace and quiet in the shower (yes, even 2 minutes), can all help relax the mind to feel refreshed, and renewed.
These moments are critical to the daily hubbub that has become corona life. Taking a moment to check in with yourself, laugh, or smile at the image someone sent you of someone using a slice of pizza for a mask, all helps you keep up your positive mental attitude.
4: Accept the world has changed.
One thing is certain, the world has changed. The way people see education, healthcare, and business will change after this passes. We have been forced to work in different ways, face fears head on, and see that what once may have seemed impossible is in fact possible.
There is no doubt humanity will persevere. We will get through this. However, the world and life may look different to what we once knew. I accept this. Once you accept this is possible, you release fear and can live in the peace of knowing it will be ok. New opportunities will arise. We humans have always adapted and evolved, and we will do again.
5: Build resilience and mental strength.
While getting through the current day can seem like it sucks up all the energy, I am spending time considering what’s next and how I can be ready for it. In the coming months, we can focus on building the key competencies for what is to come. Preparing our employees, our businesses, and ourselves personally, will enable us to embrace whatever the future brings and even grow in times of challenge and uncertainty.
There are key skills that make surviving, and thriving, that much easier, as well as keep you in a positive and productive state. While during the crisis many are naturally focused on survival and the here-and-now, those that also spend time in readiness for the next phase of this journey will have a head start in employee, customer, and business success.
6: Practice gratitude.
While the pandemic is obviously not great, there are still some things to be grateful for. For me, some of these have been:
- Spending more time with family and at home. I have been enjoying being present for moments that I otherwise would have missed, having random conversations as I “bump” into the family running to get a coffee between calls, and getting odd things done at home that I never had time for before.
- Reconnecting with people. This state of concern has made me reach out to people more and see how they are doing during this time, allowing me to catch up with some people that I have not managed to connect with in a long time.
- Seeing nature and wonderful sights. Skylines are reappearing, animals are venturing out, and the air seems cleaner.
- An opening for innovation. Problem-times lead the way for solutions, creative thinking and open the door for innovation. Being able to look at our value as a business, and my impact personally, to see how we can support people and the world at this time, and see how we can adapt, stimulates the creative mind, which for me is energizing.
- Seeing the beauty of humanity. While tough times can highlight the worst of humanity, it also brings the very best to light. People helping those in need. Restaurants feeding healthcare workings or those that are vulnerable. The healthcare workers, researchers and scientists working hard to battle this. All of this reminds me that we humans care, and that in of itself is a beautiful thing.
Stay safe, be well, and find the little ways that make Corona Life work for you!