Like many, the new year started off with great expectations and my calendar was filled with opportunities that had me excited about the future. My consulting practice had me lined up to run a series of workshops on Communication Through Transformation in the USA and EU in March/April, which, due to Coronavirus pandemic were quickly changed. However, a new message came out – “Can you please run online Masterclasses on Motivation Through Transformation?” The message changed. People’s needs changed and being cooped up inside for so long – they changed fast. People across the board are now feeling the strain of isolation, the challenge of restricted movement and interaction and need relief.
So, here are some tips I would like to share that can help us all feel a little more in control, lift our moods and keep mentally and emotionally healthy.
Remember The Stockdale Paradox:
Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest-ranking military official in the US that was captured during the Vietnam war. He was a prisoner of war for over seven years, during which time he was tortured repeatedly. Fortunately, this isn’t our situation, but we can learn from his incredible response and apply a valuable lesson. He caught the world’s attention for coming out of that experience as a stronger and better person. He said, “I never lost sight in the end of the story, I never doubted that not only would I get out, but that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, that in retrospect, I would not trade.” He went on to say;
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
We can learn here that the paradox is – to accept the brutal facts of our present reality but never lose sight in the end of the story. That we will prevail! So, tip number one is to manage our expectations of the current reality. Own them, confront them, accept them, but also have a positive outlook that shows you prevailing and winning – perhaps even transformed for the better because of it.
My 17-year-old son has frequently lamented his school responsibilities. When school was shut down, he lamented again. “Why?” I asked. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for you to enjoy some more freedom.” He explained, “because now I don’t know what to do with myself and it’s stressing me out!” I have learned quickly during this time that one of the most important things we can do to maintain our wellbeing is to establish a clear and well-planned routine. Schedule your time, define your objectives, establish your priorities and keep a commitment to be effective and productive.
Physically Distanced – Socially Connected
This is an important differentiator. As human beings we thrive on connectedness. This is one reason why so many people are struggling right now. But the distance physically doesn’t mean we have to be distant socially or emotionally. Of the many things you may need to build into your routine – include connecting with others. Phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Zoom, whatever platform you choose – keep connected. Do it with the intent to express love and compassion to others. Think of others that are isolated and may need the conversation. Avoid endless hours on social media where connecting is superficial. Make this count! Small acts of service for others – like a kindly phone call to say “I’m thinking of you” will actually do your own mood a power of good too.
Triggers and solutions:
We all get triggered in different ways. But knowing the warning signs can be very helpful in recognising the need to change something. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t realise I’m stressed until my body lets me know or my wife spots it. Some early warning signs that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have identified that you may be struggling can look like this:
1. Fear and worry – either for yourself or others
2. Disrupted sleep patterns
3. Changes in eating habits
4. Difficulty concentrating
5. Worsening chronic health conditions
6. Worsening mental health conditions
7. Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
If you wish to learn more about their direction, you can go here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
We each will have different ways to cope, but here are some things that will certainly help alleviate any anxiety, stress or worry that you may be feeling:
1. Exercise. Even if it has to be indoors, or in a back garden. Even if it is only basic or a few minutes.
2. As a part of your routine – include an established sleep pattern. Stick to it. Set a bed time and arise at a decent hour. Respect the circadian rhythm that our bodies are designed to follow.
3. Meditate, do breathing exercises, or stretches. Take time to quiet the mind and enjoy the stillness.
4. Avoid alcohol and drugs. These practices are not your friend when it comes to managing stress and anxiety.
5. Do something different. We crave variety and it is easy to get stuck in the routine of the same stuff – eat the wrong food, stay up late, watch too much Netflix. Try something new. Yes, you may need to sit and brainstorm a little to find out what that looks like, but it could be – read a book, try yoga, learn to draw, board games, quizzes, make a funny video, learn to sing, get an online qualification, etc.
The critical thing out of all of this is to claim control in our lives. When we feel out of control our self esteem diminishes. We have some heavy restrictions in place but for a good cause. Let’s all stay safe, be good social citizens, plan our time well, think of others, look after ourselves and have some fun along the way.
By Ben Woodward
Founder of Ragnar Circles | Communication and Transformation Consultant.
Ben is an internationally experienced Corporate Executive and Entrepreneur. He is experienced in Business Planning, Communication, Sales, Marketing, and Branding. He is an excellent communicator and professional with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature.
Ragnar Circles Inc., is a consulting firm that specialises in internal communications, change and transformation management, business strategy and personal performance.
Ben has worked personally with people and organisations in 30 countries around the world at all levels of the company. From the new starter to the Chairman of the Board.