Here are some tips that have resonated with us:
Manage your expectations
Do not underestimate the emotional load that COVID brings, or the impact it will have in the short term. Difficulty concentrating, low motivation and a state of distraction are to be expected. Adaptation takes time. Go easy on yourself. With many of us still in isolation, we need to be realistic in the goals we set.
Proactively manage your stress
Try to lay a solid foundation for your wellbeing:
Prioritise your sleep : practise good sleep hygiene (for example, avoid blue lights before bed, and maintain a routine around your sleep and wake times).
Eat well: be conscious that you might be inclined to lean on alcohol, or other indulgences, to manage stress — this is understandable, but potentially damaging in the long run.
Exercise: it will lower your stress levels, help you to better regulate your emotions and improve your sleep.
Know your red flags
One way to manage moments of distress is to identify key thoughts or physical sensations that contribute to your feelings of being overwhelmed. Our thoughts (“Why can’t I concentrate?”), feelings (frustration, worry, sadness), physical sensations (tension, upset stomach, jitters) and actions (such as compulsively checking the latest COVID statistics) each feed into and amplify these negative emotional spirals.
Addressing one aspect of this loop by, for example, actively reducing the physical symptoms (such as using box breathing: breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for four and hold for four, then repeat) can de-escalate the cycle and help you regain control.
Routine is your friend
It helps to manage anxiety, and will help you to adapt to this current reality. Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your head space. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related that brings you joy. Working in short bursts with clear breaks will help to maintain your clarity of thought.
Be compassionate with yourself and with others
There is much that we cannot control right now. How we talk to ourselves during these challenging times can either provide a powerful buffer to these difficult circumstances or amplify our distress. Moments of feeling overwhelmed often come with big thoughts, such as “I cannot do this,” or “This is too hard.” This pandemic will cause a lot of stress for many of us, and we cannot be our best selves all the time. But we can ask for help or reach out when help is asked of us.
Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our health. Many organisations have created virtual forums where you can contribute or just sit back and enjoy the chatter, such as our Feel Good 50 membership (Click here to sign up). Our team have has instigated virtual coffee mornings, online dancercise events and our private facebook group. We are in social isolation, but we need not feel alone. Reach out to those who might be particularly isolated.
Manage uncertainty by staying in the present
Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. Mindfulness and meditation can be great tools.
This will probably be a stressful time for all of us. By embracing good wellbeing measures, and by relying on others when necessary, we can protect ourselves and those around us.