The Sensitive Striver’s Guide to Dealing with Uncertain Times

Here are 13 reliable tips to help you practice proper self-care, even when there’s chaos happening all around you.

Self-Care, COVID-19, A Guide to Uncertain Times

The Coronavirus. Quarantine. Social distancing. A potential global recession. Needless to say, there is a lot to be nervous about right now. 

It’s a difficult time. Uncertainty reigns. And as a result, your stress may be at an all-time high. You might be wondering what implications the pandemic has for your team, your organization, your career, your family, the economy, and the world. 

This goes doubly for Sensitive Strivers. That’s because we feel everything more deeply. We tend to absorb the tension and angst around us, and that of society as a whole. 

It’s no wonder then that when I asked in my free community, The Haven, what they needed right now, most commented that they wanted tips for dealing with uncertainty and the anxiety COVID-19 is generating. 

Here are a few ideas to take care of yourself and be present as a leader, even when there’s chaos happening around you.

How to Take Care of Yourself During Uncertain Times

1. Accept It

Uncertainty is an inevitable part of life and the best thing you can do is embrace and prepare for it. Adjust your self-talk to take in the reality we’re facing – phrases like, “It’s only human to worry” and “This hurts and I’m not alone in feeling that.”

2. Create a Sense of Mastery and Control.

Establish a schedule if you have to work from home for the next few weeks. Make strides towards a personal goal, take an online course, or even clean out a closet – anything that gives you a sense of accomplishment and order amidst chaos. 

3. Practice “Worry Time”.

Spending 15 to 20 minutes a day on a worry deep-dive can ultimately reduce your worries and help you cope more effectively with the challenges thrown at you.

4. Mindfully Consume Media.

Stay informed, yes, but beware not to over-saturate yourself with ongoing updates, especially during vulnerable parts of the day like right before bed or if you sense yourself becoming overwhelmed. Limit yourself to trusted news sources. Balance stressful stories with uplifting ones.

5. Get Off of Your Phone.

It’s easy to scroll for hours and stay glued to your devices. Don’t do this. Use an app to cap your social media usage, or a browser extension to block your news feed for short periods of time. 

6. Utilize the Extra Time at Home Wisely.

Play games, read books, get out into nature, and catch up on all the self-care you’ve been putting off. 

7. Ground Yourself.

Your stress will spike, and when it does, you can use box breathing or meditation to take yourself out of fight or flight. 

8. Keep a COVID-19 Journal.

I love this idea from Gretchen Rubin, who suggests documenting your experiences during this unprecedented time. It’s a great way to process all the thoughts and emotions that are coming up for you. 

9. Flip Doomsday Scenarios.

Sensitive Strivers are wired to see risks, so your brain may go to worst-case scenarios like “I’ll never work again.” Instead, Look for possibilities that arise from change. Ask yourself, “Where is the potential here? How can I turn this predicament into something extraordinary?” Maybe this is your chance to assume a bigger leadership role, or to diversify your income and build the business you’ve been dreaming about. This isn’t about being opportunistic, but rather looking for ways you can contribute.

10. Meet Your Team Where They Are.

Your exceptional empathy means you probably sense that your team is on edge, too. Don’t ignore it; call out the elephant in the room. Ask about their concerns and work through them together. 

11. Set New Expectations.

If your team is suddenly working remotely, it’s contingent on you as the leader to step up and define expectations. Over-communicate. Talk about how you’ll adjust deadlines, new rules around response times, and how often you expect updates or to touch base. Clarity is calming for everyone. 

12. Take Things One at a Time.

Everything is changing fast. Organizations are canceling events, reassessing their goals, and pivoting their operations at a breakneck pace. This can leave the Sensitive Striver leader reeling. There may be a 1000 tasks on your plate, so start small and start somewhere. Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you. Prioritize, divide and conquer. 

13. Find Support

Connect with your co-workers, friends and family online. My favorite tool for this is Zoom. Don’t forget that you can find a community of other Sensitive Strivers over at The Haven. Every day, members are asking questions about how to deal with this crisis, adjust their work as a result, and supporting one another through it all. Reach out for professional support, if you need it.

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