The present coronavirus gives plenty of opportunity for us to feel like it’s all a bit much. Bad news from around the world, massive disruption to our routines and freedom of movement, family difficulties and the worry of being ill.
Frankly, it can feel overwhelming. If you can identify with feeling overwhelmed in the past few weeks, read on for some ideas on how to cope effectively with this. If you’re interested in specifically coping with anxiety my recent blog post over at The Trusted Coach Directory may be of interest
Principles for dealing with overwhelm
Below, I outline six principles to keep in mind when it all seems a bit much to deal with. These are all about where we bring our focus, something that we actually have control over. In a world that seems to be full of unwelcome changes, these principles can bring some respite and calm.
1. Presence – focus on the here and now
It’s really easy for our minds to take us places that are scary and all about the future or the past. Our minds are great at painting vivid pictures of what might happen. However, it’s much more helpful for us to focus on the here and now, on the things that are actually happening and on the people around us. In order to do that we need to notice where our attention is going. Pay attention to the tone and frequency of thoughts and imagery about things that are not actually happening now. Then gently bring your attention back to here and now and the things that need your focus.
2. Perspective – focus on what you can control
Rolling news means that we have a constant feet of worrying updates and things that can cause us to feel scared and upset. Instead of getting tied up with thought about what’s happening on the other side of the world, bring your focus to bear on things that you have control over. Focus on what’s within your circle of control and take helpful action for yourself and others. You can control when you get out out of bed and what time you have your shower. You can control your exposure to the news. You can’t control others’ behaviour and responses to the pandemic. Focusing on what you can realistic control can help bring a sense of calm.
3. Priorities – focus on what matters
One small benefit of living through a crisis is that it can help us understand what really matters to us. If we maintain our focus on our priorities, we are then able to understand what we can do to make a difference. Ask yourself: how will you invest your time, energy and attention today? Will it be on inconsequential and temporary annoyances, or will it be about the people and activities you really care about? If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, make a list of three things you want to get done today and just focus on them.
4. Pragmatism – focus on what’s possible
It’s very easy to notice all the things that are no longer allowed during a pandemic lockdown. We can’t visit friends and family. We can’t go to the pub, the cinema or the coffee shop. There’s no live sport to watch. Events and activities we normally enjoy are now forbidden. However, we can alternatively bring our focus to bear on what’s still allowed and the human ingenuity that makes it possible. Video calls replace meetings. Workout videos on YouTube replace going to the gym. FaceTime replaces meeting family and friends in person. Notice and be thankful for what’s still possible.
5. Pace – focus on the ‘long game’
It’s highly likely that this disruption will be with us for many more weeks, if not months. So this period of working from home needs to be sustainable. This crisis has no defined end-point, so ‘sprinting’ towards a deadline isn’t going to work. This is much more like a marathon. So, pace yourself and your approach to your responsibilities, remembering that the context and environment around you have changed. So must your approach. Focus on getting through one day at a time.
6. Patience – focus on understanding
Everyone is going to respond to a crisis like this in different ways. It’s important that we are patient both with ourselves and with the people around us as we adapt to this new normal. Not everyone is going to feel comfortable working from home. Not everyone is going to feel safe and secure as their industry is impacted by this pandemic. Being patient means that we are able to see the bigger picture and feel a sense of compassion for ourselves and the people around us.
If you’d like to learn more about how to work from home effectively, visit our Working from Home page for free tips and resources.