Stress and Coronavirus
Posted on 17th March 2020 at 15:40
We are currently experiencing a health crisis that is having a profound effect on all of us. There is no doubt that all of our lives are going to be changed by the virus and with the situation escalating daily, stress levels will be running high.
Although we still don't know the full details, it seems obvious that many people in the UK will get sick and, if other countries are anything to go on, many people (particularly the elderly and vulnerable) will be severely hit. The sensible precaution is to listen to the experts, and commit to social distancing for the foreseeable future, particularly if you are in, or have relatives in one of the vulnerable groups. It is down to all of us to try and prevent the spread of the disease as far as possible, to give our health service the best chance of coping with the increased demand that is being placed upon it.
For full details of the current medical advice click here.
Certain industries have already been hit hard by the virus - the tourism, travel and entertainment sectors are seeing many people being told to go home as flights are cancelled and pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres are closed for a significant period of time. I, personally work predominantly in the corporate sector and whether it be awards event, conferences or stress workshops, all are being put on hold for at least a few months.
For some people, this is going to cause real financial hardship and worries about paying bills etc. Stress levels go through the roof as you worry about where the money is going to come from and how you are going to be able to cope.
One of the first lessons in Mindfulness is being focussed on the present and not worrying about the future - after all, the future hasn't happened yet and may never do so! This isn't stating that we shouldn't plan for what is to come, but running through all the possible worst case scenarios in your head is unlikely to bring much benefit. Instead concentrate on what is happening today. If you are unable to pay your bills, don't ignore them. Instead contact the lenders, electricty company, etc and see what plans they have in place to help you out at this time. You can guarantee that you are not the only person doing this. Hopefully there will be some help at hand, perhaps a freezing of payments until the situation has calmed down. If necessary, have a look at what assets you can realise to give yourself some money to pay for the essentials - looking at it in a positive way, perhaps this is a good time to de-clutter!
Lack of Control
One of the greatest causes of stress in situations like this is a lack of control. It seems that we are waiting everyday to see what new controls the government will bring in and how will it affect us. If something is out of our control, there is not a lot of point worrying about it, instead, concentrate on what you can control. Mindfulness exercises are really good for this as our breathing is one thing we can be in control of. A short amount of time doing a breathing exercise can calm the little voices in the head and prevent the build up of stress.
For a free breathing exercise which you can do everyday, click here.
For those that have to self isolate, boredom can be a real problem - what can we do at home apart from watching TV and reading a book? Luckily, we live in a technical age so there is plenty online to keep us occupied - whether that be skyping with friends and relatives or learning a new skill or hobby. Now would be a great time to dust down the piano and start learning that new tune! If you have a garden then why not take this opportunity to get cracking on it - you get some much needed fresh air and exercise and will feel better for it. You may have had to cancel or postpone a holiday so why not take this time to plan for the next one?
Learn a new language or write some letters to friends (much appreciated in this age of emails).
I get very frustrated by the amount "good advice" which is actually being rubbish shared on facebook. It is bad enough during normal times but at the moment it can cause panic and anxiousness in some and can lead to a false sense of security in others. Whether it be holding your breath for 10 seconds as a test to see whether you have the virus or gargling with vinegar to prevent it - these things are false! Please, please, before you post or share anything check out the facts first to see whether it is true or just a myth.
Snopes is a great website which I always check when anyone shares information with me.
Still feeling Stressed?
I believe that a proactive stress strategy is essential in any business. This involves giving people techniques that they can use to de-stress (often mindfulness based), creating an "anchor" to help them when stressed and also powerful re-framing ideas that can turn around the way they deal with their everyday problems.
To find out about the 1 or 2 hour workshops that I run to proactively prevent stress and build resilience, click here.
In the meantime, stay safe and look after your elderly or vulnerable neighbours
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