Jeni Carroll shares her quick and effective tips for managing stress, which are needed more than ever in the uncertainty of the pandemic and juggling a new work life balance.
I learnt the phrase ‘in the grip’ years ago when Myers Briggs was all the rage. To me, it meant I was feeling stressed and was far too busy to do anything about it! All of my wellbeing activities would go out of the window in favor of focusing on whatever was stressing me in the moment, and fixing that before I was ‘allowed’ to prioritise me. It took me a while to recognise that prioritising my needs was vital to ensuring I was happy and fulfilled. I could then cope with stressful situations as they came along.
There’s plenty to feel stressed about at the moment – with another lockdown in the UK and many jobs demanding more hours to cope with the pandemic and for those of you homeschooling (again!) – I can only imagine! When you’re feeling ‘in the grip’ I know how hard it can be to get yourself out of it. Here are some of the most effective (and quick!) strategies to help you ground yourself and regain some balance:
First things first – pause and take a breath
There’s a great meme where a caveman is pushing a wheelbarrow with a square wheel, and his friend offers him a round wheel, but he’s too busy to stop, take a few minutes to change his wheel and then continue much more smoothly. Pausing and taking a breath can help to ground you and make things feel more manageable. Try a simple box breath, in for 3, hold for 3, out for 3 and hold for 3. Repeat this for a few minutes and see how you feel
Perspective and Priorities
Gaining some perspective on your stressors can help. Ask yourself ‘will you remember this in 6 weeks time?’ Remember when you have got through difficult times in the past; this will remind you how capable you are of navigating this time. I also recommend getting clear on what you can and can’t control, draw two concentric circles and write the things you can’t influence in the outer circle and those that you could influence in the smaller one – focus your energy here. And if your to-do list is feeling out of control, remember only to do the things that really need your skills and expertise. Delegate the rest or de-prioritise.
Morning me time
How do you start your mornings? Running late? Scrolling through work emails before you’ve even got out of bed? I hear you! And now with many of us working from home, the boundaries can be even more blurred.
You don’t need to get up at 5am and do hours of yoga and meditation, but pick out a couple of things that are just for you and build in time for these each day. Rather than reaching for your phone, make a nice coffee and read a few pages of a good book. You could also try a walk round the block to clear your head before you start your day. This self-care time will help you to feel more centred and grounded and invariably leads to a better and more productive day.
There’s a reason outdoor exercise is allowed under lockdown – fresh air and nature is so good for your mental health. And even if you live in a city you can always find a tree or two if you look hard enough! If your stress levels are rising, see my earlier point about stopping – take yourself out of the situation and go outside for a walk. Leave your phone at home and just be in your surroundings. Even 10 minutes will help you come back, feeling much more energised.
I’d love to hear how you find the tips above worked for you and if you have any tips of your own to share.
Connect with Jeni on IG: @jeni_carroll_coaching