man stress sustainability corona covid-19These are extraordinarily difficult times. To say the least!

Coronavirus Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on our society, economy, businesses and families. Well-established modes of business interactions are being overturned, confident future projections have crumbled, and familiar routines are disrupted. 

Some of us have too much to do and are overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks that face them. They wonder: ‘What if it all goes horribly wrong’?

Others suddenly have ‘nothing’ to do and wonder: ‘How long will this continue and what will be the impact?’

Everyone wonders: ‘How am I supposed to react to this crisis?’

If you’re dealing well with the current situation and are taking it in your stride, no need to read on.

But if you feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights – wide-eyed, stressed and unsure of which way to turn – then we would like to try to guide you to find a calmer ‘place’ in order that you can take some well-considered steps and move forward. The coronavirus crisis is here to stay for the foreseeable future so finding a way to live with it and nevertheless bring our best game to the table is going to be vital.  

Worrying doesn’t help

Your grandmother probably told you: ‘worrying is a waste of effort’. And she was right. (Wasn’t she always?) We have to accept our new reality. The coronavirus Covid-19 is here to stay. Our task now is to move away from exhausting, circular worrying to clear, critical thinking and planning. What you need right now is your own best thinking. What those around you need from you right now is your best thinking. And that is only possible if you stay calm.  

Accept the worst possible future outcome

The first time we read this advice was about 30 years in a book by Dale Carnegie called ‘How to stop worrying and start living’, which was first published just after World War 2. It is solid advice that stands the test of time and has helped us to advance and live fully despite significant personal and professional challenges. Once you accept that the worst outcome is in fact possible and that, while absolutely horrific, you would in fact ‘deal with it’ and find a way beyond it, it loses its power to freeze you.

Once we realise that we would be able to handle the ‘worst’ outcome imaginable (even if it will be traumatic and difficult), we regain our calm and are able to once again start thinking clearly.

So, take the time to identify what the future scenarios are that you fear the most and imagine how you will react and move forward from them. Empower yourself by discovering that you will in fact be ok, that you will get through it. That you are more resilient than you might have realised. And then take that strength and apply it to strategizing and planning today to mitigate the impact of that worst possible outcome.   

Keep putting your best foot forward!

Here are some strategies for how to stay on track in a healthy and positive way:

  • Be clear on what you want. Given that we cannot change what has already happened, what matters most NOW? What are the things you want to fight for? What are the opportunities you could seize? Give yourself something to ‘aim for’. Give yourself a sense of purpose!
  • Resource yourself. Are you ‘totally stressed out’ or completely ‘apathetic’? Give yourself a shot of positive energy and then find a way to sustain it. Consider what gives you a mental and emotional boost. Perhaps it is physical exercise? Are you getting enough sleep? Would you benefit from talking to a friend (even if it’s over the phone?) Would a walk in the sunshine help? Spending time with your pets? Whatever energizes you, go for it! Give yourself some positive energy!
  • Ask for help. Why reinvent the wheel? Don’t exhaust yourself going in circles or spinning your wheels. Instead, consider who could have answers to the difficult questions you’re asking yourself. Reach out to them. Remember, people WANT to help!!! They feel good about themselves if they are able to help others. Give yourself the right support!
  • Celebrate your small successes. Success breeds success. Notice the things you’re doing right (especially those things that matter most i.e. those that energize you, and those that propel you forward) and give yourself ‘kudos’. High-five yourself for even the smallest achievements. Focus on what you ARE doing (rather than what you are not) and let it fill you with a sense of ‘can-do’ and ‘want-to-do’. Give yourself a sense of accomplishment!
  • Learn some coping strategies. Yes – there will be difficult moments now, in the future, about Covid-19 or about other challenges. There will be many moments of anxiety so look for ways that you can create a sort of ‘buffer zone’ between you and stress. Give yourself some tools to safeguard your own sense of calm. For some yoga is helpful. Others appreciate meditation or mindfulness. The app Headspace, for example, can help with this. The key thing is to give yourself a sense of relief!

What if you don’t have time for all of this?

Be honest with yourself. Is your current lack of sleep not really affecting you? Is your current stress only a minor problem compared to all the wonderful things you’re doing? Great! Then carry on doing what you are doing now! You’ve clearly developed some good coping mechanisms already.

However, if you find you are struggling to take decisions in a timely way, or that you’re far less efficient or effective than you used to be, then we highly advise investing some time in addressing the areas above. While you will not be able to solve the current crisis, you will be able to ‘live’ during these worrying times and that is immeasurably important!



Photos by Nik Shuliahin and sydney Rae on Unsplash