This year has been draining. The changes, uncertainty and inability to live and work in the way we would like to have impacted all of us. Often eroding our confidence, making us question everything and providing an increased level of stress. Here are 5 areas you can focus on to help you through:
Look after your health
All the stuff we tell clients applies to us too. Include daily movement in whatever form you prefer. Aim to eat mostly nutritious foods. Ensure you are hydrated. Control the things you can in order to help you get the sleep you need. Do what you can to manage and minimise stress. It is really easy for these things to slip by the wayside during tough times, but we know they work so now is a good time to take some of our own medicine! 😊
Control what you can control
Uncertainty is horrible, so aim to create your own certainty where you can. Having to wait for clarification on rule changes is stressful, particularly when it comes down to the wire, however you don’t have to change to a less restrictive option on the day it’s allowed. If you want more time to clarify things and get stuff in place, then give yourself that time. As long as you communicate with clients and work within the rules, you can choose how and when you make changes.
Make sure you have boundaries between when you are working and when you are not. If you struggle to switch off when you aren’t working, then plan to do activities that you know distract you. Also, set up your environment to support the switch to home time, put work stuff away, physically if you can and symbolically if you can’t move it. Sometimes planning out your downtime is more important than planning out your working time!
Set yourself process goals, not outcome goals. Outcomes for anything are difficult to predict right now, so work out what you have control of, decide what you are going to do within that and keep your focus there.
If you can’t do something about a situation right now, then park it until you can. With every change from the government, there is a delay between the headline stuff and the detailed clarification that allows us to plan and take action. We can choose whether to allow a constant merry go round of ‘what if’ to stress us out or work on something else until we are in a position to act. Create a backup plan or 2 when you need to and then leave it. Don’t hang out in the uncertain world of ‘what if’ for any longer than you need to.
Fact check yourself
Our imaginations are not always our friends. We tend to be really good at creating negative scenarios, making assumptions of what others are thinking that reflect badly on, or create a negative situation for us and generally catastrophising everything. This gets worse when we are surrounded by as much negativity as we are right now.
However quickly we may jump on an error posted on social media, we don’t ever tend to fact check the thoughts in our head. Get into the habit of questioning yourself, particularly when you are experiencing negative emotions. Is it based on fact? What other reasons/ options could there be? What is verifiable externally?
When you realise you are creating something negative which isn’t real, then a good way to get yourself out of it can be to go with the most way-out option you can come up with. A client hasn’t responded to a message, and you’ve decided that means they are leaving? Maybe they have been called up by the Avengers and are in the middle of something on another world right now. 😊
Focus on the positive and what you can do
There are always positives to find. We are incredibly lucky that our chosen profession allows us to deliver our services remotely right now. It might now be our preferred option but it is an option that many other industries don’t have right now. Create a gratitude journal/ jar. Actively look for positive news.
If you are doubting your abilities, spend some time looking at client reviews and remind yourself of the positive impact you have on their lives. Start a list of your achievements, skills and things you are good at.
Remove negative influences where you can. The unfollow option on Social Media is fabulous for this. Choose when and how you check the news.
Where you can’t remove a negative influence, aim to add in extra positive ones!
It’s also really easy to focus on what you can’t do but if you switch it around and look at what you can do it is a lot less stressful and will leave you feeling a lot better. This applies within a home situation as well as a working one. What can you do right now to make yourself feel better? Create a list that you can refer back to when you need it because when you are in a negative space, it can be difficult to come up with solutions.
Remember that sometimes, when it all feels a bit too much, it’s not doing nothing that helps, but taking action. Do something that makes you feel better. Whether that is a fun activity, getting something done that you have been putting off or permitting yourself to enjoy your form of escapism is up to you.
Cut yourself some slack
Remind yourself that usual rules don’t apply right now. Switch things up and put greater focus on self-care. If you don’t already know what works for you when it comes to letting off steam and replenishing your energy stores, then now is the time to experiment.
Don’t keep pushing yourself through everything. That can work temporarily when you know it is for a finite period of time, but it doesn’t work in the current situation, where it is still open-ended, and we don’t know when and how things will return to a situation where we can do what we want to do.
Work out what your genuine ‘must-dos’ are. Work-wise these tend to be client-facing and finance-related tasks. Work out what your minimum daily and weekly to-do lists need to look like to maintain your standard of customer service. Create the time to get those done, and then everything else falls into the optional category. When things are a bit much, then do the minimum and give yourself the rest of the day off to do “you stuff”. When you feel ok, then pick something from your optional to-do list.
Do the same with your home stuff. Must-do’s tend to be things you need to keep yourself going (including the looking after your health and managing your physical and emotional energy levels stuff), caring for any dependents, finance and being able to survive related tasks (shopping, laundry etc. unfortunately come under this category and are best not ignored).
Not everything here will work for everyone, but hopefully, it will give you some ideas you can use to help. This blog “The Next 6 Months” may also be helpful right now.
If you have any other suggestions of things that work for you, then let us know.