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Staying in control and finding calm

Last reviewed on 02 July 2020

As time passes by, things at work and home should hopefully be starting to feel a little calmer as we adapt to a new normal, but that doesn’t mean that the challenges you’re facing are any less.

In many cases, the challenges may be bigger as the reality of coronavirus has hit home. You or someone in your team may even be directly affected. During this challenging time, your wellbeing, and that of your team, needs to remain front of mind.

How can I stay in control?

Life isn’t normal at the moment and it’s important to recognise that there are things you can control, and things you simply can’t. Focus your mind and efforts on the things that are within your control, this'll help to reduce any panic or anxiety.

It’s ok not to be able to solve every problem you come across. It’s an unrealistic expectation to think you can and will cause you stress and anxiety trying to do so. Here’s an example:

COVID-19 – you can’t control the current situation, but you have total control of how you react and your thoughts and your actions around it.

Understanding what’s within your control

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is a useful exercise to help you focus on the things you can control, and it only takes a few minutes. Write down and share the below with someone you trust:

  • Things you feel you have little or no control over
  • Things you feel you have some control over
  • Things you have lots of control over

This can be anything from work-related activities, to home-schooling, to money and everything else in between. Once you have your list, chat it through and try to identify what you need to focus on.

Doing what matters most to avoid burnout

Burnout follows a period of extended stress, where we then become extremely fatigued. It can cause us to make poor decisions and can make us ill.

Things might sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you try to solve every problem you face. Think about what you can control and what you can’t, then tackle what you can and pass on what you can’t. This may sound quite simple but can be hard to do under pressure and if you don’t, you’ll risk burning out quickly.

Helping myself and my team avoid burnout?

Engage regularly with your team through calls and emails to make sure that they’re okay. You know how your team members usually act, so if they’re behaving differently to usual it may be down to burnout or other wellbeing issues

Signs of burnout can include:

  • Feeling out of sorts: demotivated, snappy, overly critical
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling disengaged
  • Having poor concentration
  • Feeling guilty
  • Finding it hard to get to, or stay asleep

Slow the world down

When we feel overwhelmed, things can feel really chaotic. If you feel panic creeping in find a quiet spot to take some slow, deep breaths in and out. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second and then breathe out for a count of four.

Do this several times until you have a calming rhythm. If there’s a lot going on around you, try closing your eyes for a few seconds. This can make it easier for you to focus on your breathing.

The NHS also has some tips on how to relieve stress

Focus on the small things that make you happy

Little wins from enjoying a cup of tea in peace, to having 10 minutes reading a book, to going out for a walk for your daily exercise can make life feel a lot brighter.

Establish boundaries

When you’re with your family and friends, focus on them and leave work behind. To switch off the end of your day, write a to-do list, make a note of everything that went well and what you’re grateful for. This will clear your head and focus your brain on the positives of the day – do it daily so it becomes a healthy habit.