Physical distancing and isolation measures, [and] the closure of schools and workplaces, are particularly [challenging for] us, as they affect what we love to do, where we want to be, and who we want to be with,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s (World Health Organization) regional director for Europe, in his opening remarks.
“It is absolutely natural for each of us to feel stress, anxiety, fear, and loneliness during this time. At [the] WHO, we consider [effects on] our mental health [and] psychological well-being as being very important consequences of COVID-19,” he added.
Everyone seems willing to acknowledge that the pandemic and its consequences are stressful. To make it even more difficult to endure, our usual contacts with health professionals of all kinds has changed dramatically. We now have virtual appointments which are helpful, but not the same as a face-to-face visit with someone we trust to help.
Recently, to add to the cares and worry of the pandemic, there is civil unrest in the United States and throughout the world as the issue of systemic racism again raises its ugly head.
What can we do, pretty much on our own, to combat these stressors? Is there a magic wand out there we can wave over our heads to allivate this sense of drowning in stress? Of course not. However, there are some steps each of us can take that will help.
Kat Hounsell is a leadership coach and mental health first aid instructor, and founder of everyday people, says, “Be kind and patient with yourself and those around you.” She also stressed the importance of maintaining other healthful habits — such as eating regularly and sticking to a healthful diet — because these are, in themselves, a cornerstone of mental health.
In the same article, business neurolinguistic programming practitioner and mental health trainer Tania Diggory, founder and director of Calmer, said, “[w]hen working from home, prioritizing your mindset and well-being at the start of the day is essential.”
Of course, sounds simple. Anyone can do that. We can, but do we do it daily…not always. Try this, it will help.
Before you sign off for the day make a list of tasks for your next session. Prioritize them and refer to it first thing. Break things up into manageable units. Just saying, “Get final budget proposal for the company” isn’t going to work. Break down the tasks needed to accomplish large goals. You will find crossing off small tasks almost as satisfying as deleting big ones, and, when you eventually can cross off that giant budget approval that seemed so difficult and far off, you will not have driven yourself into the ground with frustration because you can’t see progress being made.
When you take a break at work, go to lunch, on your commute, take along headphones and listen to a relaxation script. There are several types of relaxation…their formal names are not important. Below is a link to a free script from Natural Tranquilzers, an excellent compilation of different types of relaxation. Remember: being able to relax on command is a muscle skill. Wayne Gretsky, the best hockey player ever, had to learn how to handle the puck and shoot at the goal just like any other 5 year-old Ice Mite did. Van Cliburn, pianist extraordinaire, wouldn’t have learned to play with the beauty and artistry he exhibits if he hadn’t trained his muscles to know where the notes were on the keyboard, practicing scales. You, when you first try to relax using a time-honored relaxation technique, will need to train your muscles, too. Many people find that at around the seven to ten day mark their muscles begin to relax on command and they see the benefits begin to accrue.
Schedule time to wind yourself down. Even at work, you can take 5 or 10 minutes to listen to your favorite relaxation MP3 file. Click here for a link to download Calm Down, a free relaxation script track from Natural Tranquilizers, one of our relaxation audio products. Practice it for seven to ten days. The trick is teaching your muscles to respond to the music and words you are hearing without you having to consciously tell them to do so. It works!