Additional methods for managing COVID-19 stress.
In the past two weeks, there has not been a single hour where the COVID-19 pandemic has not arisen in my thoughts. I know I am not alone. Our stress from separation, lack of social interaction, job insecurity, fear of getting sick and frustration with others’ responses are all whirled together and making it harder to focus when it’s necessary. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I am used to managing anxious thoughts. Now, as I work from home and have fewer natural disruptions to my anxious thinking, these methods are more valuable than ever.
Even if you are not working from home or do not have manage an anxiety disorder, these six tips can help you handle COVID-19 stress. None are rocket science but they are all much easier read than done.
1. Identify irrational thoughts.
Right now, our minds are in overdrive and the videos of balcony-singers, virtual concerts and clever tweets only go so far. Our minds have rarely had so much fuel to spiral on, but learning how to identify and challenge types of irrational thoughts can help us remain calm. (If you find yourself having persistent negative thoughts that feel obsessive or intrusive, consider talking to your doctor.)
2. Accept what is unknown.
I have frequently caught myself thinking, “When will this end?” and “How will the world change after?” I have to remind myself that nobody knows. There is too much changing every day and pouring over conflicting guesses and conjectures and op-eds probably does little to put our minds at ease. Give your brain a break and practice acceptance.
3. Find comfort in the constants.
If acceptance seems difficult, perhaps focusing on what hasn’t changed will help more. This is where all that advice around “maintain your morning routine, continue getting dressed for work, etc.” really helps. But go broader too. Even amidst all this change, I am betting your long-term goals, business priorities or personal development objectives remain the same. Anchor onto the constants.
4. Set boundaries for yourself and your team.
Take a moment to think about the situations that make you feel most stressed or anxious and then think of ways you can avoid them. Personally, I know I need to limit the number of times I read news headlines during the day and it might help you too. Or you might suggest cutting out all “coronavirus conversation”during the beginning of conference calls. Communicate your boundaries and ask others about theirs.
5. Continue being a workplace community.
This is so important and if your team is not used to being remote, it will not just happen naturally. Do all the things you think you should. Turn on your camera during conference calls. Host a virtual happy hour. If you are using a collaboration platform like Teams, post questions or host bets or simply talk about how insane it is that Tom Brady hung up his Patriot’s jersey. Just as you are making an effort to check in with friends and family, check in with your coworkers too.
6. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
Your body can go days without water and weeks without food (and decades without toilet paper, but I get it.) But you can only go minutes without oxygen. If you need a moment, take it. Tip your laptop screen down for a few seconds and just take a couple deep, deep breaths. While you’re at it, how’s your posture?
This was Part 3 of COVID-19 Workplace Stress Management.
All writing is my own and in no way represents the perspective of my current employer.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.