How are you coping? We are boldly facing COVID, a unique and challenging time. Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we take a moment to check-in on how we are doing so we can ensure we have the energy, focus and ability to stay strong.
In speaking with my corporate clients many are facing a tidal wave of urgent tasks with less manpower and limited resources, leaving them feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Others are feeling isolated and pushing through, feeling a lack of control and overwhelmed with what’s going on around us.
Conquering our anxieties during this outbreak is key to our mental well-being and our ability to successfully cope over the next weeks. When we are feeling anxious there is a ‘misaligned ratio of stress to resiliency’ source: Dr. Greg Fricchione of Harvard Health. Our primal brain (the amygdala), our fear and survival centre, is on high alert.
We are normally resilient and equipped to address day to day challenges and tolerate stressful events, such as presenting a proposal to your boss, going on an interview, asking for a raise. But when we are in toxic stress (i.e. COVID) conditions, we are stretched too far. Our brain is on overdrive. When we are this stressed, our goal is to engage our brain’s prefrontal cortex, our safety centre, which regulates the amygdala (our fight or flight reactions) and our emotions. But how do we do that?
Acknowledge what you are feeling
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. It’s of key importance to acknowledge the emotions that are impacting you, including frustration, anger, fear and loneliness.
Taking time might sound impossible to do in our ‘get it done’, ‘push through’ culture. But in the quiet space of acknowledging your feelings, you begin the process of de-stressing and building your resiliency and strength.
Your brain might fight you stepping back during these stressful times. The cortisol is rushing: the engine is racing propelling us to react. But it’s not sustainable. As Executive Coach, Steve Mitten once joked with me, “You’re like a high-performance Ferrari – you are fueling up the tank but not stopping to add oil.’ This is the time when we absolutely must take pit stops to take care of our engines. Which brings me to my next question:
What do you need right now to de-stress?
Food, a glass of water, a bathroom break, catch your breath? Simply check-in with your basic needs. Maybe it’s just to connect with someone and laugh, or look out the window and see the sun. By attending to our essential needs, we disrupt our stress response and start resetting and calming our brains.
Ask for help
‘I need help’ is the boldest and most courageous thing you can say. During stressful experiences Dr. Fricchione explains, our primal brain is wired for social connectedness. Animals band together to protect themselves. The same is true for humans. Maybe you won’t get the resources you need, or more help, but by reaching out you instill a sense of calm – everything will be ok. Your brain then resets and calms.
To calm your brain, also consider mindfulness
Mindfulness is successfully creeping into our corporate world. It’s the art of capturing a few moments of quiet to reflect, meditate or just be calm. It’s proven to have an outstanding impact to our brains and in return our energy, clarity and impact.
The key is to address high stress levels by learning how to successfully disengage from the situation as this will refresh and renew your thinking, and ultimately your results. Dr. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement recommend: “limiting exposure to stress to 90 to 120 minutes and then switching gears for at least 5 to 10 minutes to help the body and brain recover energy… Our bodies are begging us for a chance to recover.”
For more tools and techniques to manage your COVID stress and navigate this new world: Harvard Medical School podcasts.
Joanne Loberg Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc