Managing the Mayhem in the Midst of a Public Health Crisis
Managing the Mayhem in the Midst of a Public Health Crisis
People are feeling the uncertainty that our world’s recent events have brought us. There have been enormous shifts in our work and home lives in a very short period of time. It is likely that only a few of us alive have had to face this at any point in our lifetimes.
It is important to identify the non controllables and the controllables at this moment. There is much out of our control. Family members, team members, and even friends may be looking to you for guidance and answers at this time. It’s important to embrace the fact that we actually HAVE very few answers. Be upfront about that. Cultivate open and honest conversations right now around the uncertainty. Never underestimate the importance of listening.
We can find empowerment in the things we CAN control.
We still have control over ourselves, our response, and our emotions.
What is our most precious commodity? Our relationships. We still have those as well.
As much as possible, take control over your schedule and structure at home as you work. Go back to square one: what does your day need to look like? When is the best time of the day to get your work done?
Remember what grounds and resets you. Be sure to fuel yourself with healthy nutrition and exercise. Turn the music on while you work. Find moments for joy and laughter, take time to rest when you need. Give yourself grace, and lots of it. Now is not the time to push forward and suck it up. We are in ground zero, thinking about what’s most important and tending to those things.
Humans can only handle so much trauma in our lives at one time. What we are facing right now is a BIG DEAL.
Listen to your body.
Be present with yourself and aware of how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The problem isn’t just the global pandemic, many of us have our own trauma and stress we have carried this year that we are bringing INTO this crisis.
Resilience can be seen as the size of rope you are hanging on to.
Some of us are hanging on a thick rope that can weather storms, others of us are hanging by a thin thread that will break at the slightest wind. The size of the rope we are hanging on has been created by our life experiences. You can increase your resilience right now by paying attention to the life experiences you’ve had and taking the time to process it. Making sense of your story gives you a thicker rope to hold onto that can weather great storms.
Part of resilience is also finding support in the right places. Connection has never been more needed than right NOW.
What does finding support in the right places look like right now?
For starters, please stay clear of all the toxicity and fear online.
It is important to find information and updates on COVID-19 on reliable sources such as government and health care updates. The news needs to be seen for what it is: not always there to deliver facts but to create stories that people will watch. Your best source of information is from health and government services.
Surround yourself with people who will ground you and give you hope.
This is not to say to surround yourself with people who are ignorant to our situation, but people who will bring you peace in this time. People who will listen to your concerns and who you feel safe with.
Our immune system is greatly affected by stress.
Suzanne Segerstrom, PhD, of the University of Kentucky, and Gregory Miller, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, reviewed nearly 300 studies on stress and health. Their meta-analysis discerned concerning patterns.
For stress of any significant duration – from a few days to a few months or years, as happens in real life – all aspects of immunity went downhill. Thus long-term or chronic stress, through too much wear and tear, can ravage the immune system – check out the study here.
Stress can lower the effectiveness of our immune system by more than 50%.
We build a healthy immune system through safe relationships, limiting exposure to the news and social media, and sharing good news with others! If you have things to celebrate, share it. Our world needs beautiful stories right now that bring hope and joy.
In my view, one of the worst terms ever created by any public health official anywhere is “social distancing”. Perhaps the decade I spent working knee-deep in mental health, addiction and poverty taught me well that unhealthy mental health ALWAYS has a component of social distancing and self-isolation.
So please DO NOT SOCIAL DISTANCE. This will ONLY increase your stress and anxiety, and the only way we are going to get through this is through connecting. We need to follow the advice of health experts and do “Physical Distancing”, because you don’t have to be physical to be social.
It is imperative that we make sure people aren’t feeling isolated at this time. Mental health concerns already isolate people. People feel ashamed and hide themselves away. Be sure to check in regularly with coworkers and loved ones. Don’t assume everyone is ok.
For many of us with childcare thrust upon us, our schedule is also out of our control. So, wherever possible, schedule your day in blocks or bursts of time. Working at home with others such as a spouse or children changes the game. Figure out the best schedule for you right now. What is going to work? What is the most productive time of day for you to get your work done? That may need to be before the kids get up or after they go to bed. Allow for flexibility in deadlines, time frames and tasks. You’re not going to be as productive during this time. That’s ok. Give yourself and others grace.
It’s also important to also be clear about your own personal boundaries during this time and communicate those clearly and kindly to those you work with. Be upfront about controllables and uncontrollables. Be clear about when you are available and when you are not. As Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.”
Calm communication is key right now. It is imperative to learn emotional regulation for yourself so others around you can feel emotionally regulated as well.
And remember, we are in this together. Please remember that you are courageous and resilient. You have what it takes to overcome. And we will come through this stronger together!
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