Nothing feels more debilitating than someone pulling the rug from right under your feet without you noticing - especially when you thought that you’ve got everything figured out.
You acknowledge that circumstances are constantly changing all around you and can impact you in big or small ways whether you like it or not, and whether you notice it or not. However, this is not enough to keep the stress and anxiety at bay.
So, what can you do to deal and cope in undesirable situations? Here are 3 things you can do today to prepare, manage and overcome stress in times of uncertainties.
#1 Know yourself - your values, strengths, limits and priorities. In uncertain times, it is even more crucial to recognise your worth as it endows self-trust and instills self-belief which allows you to be in control during less-than-ideal conditions.
Having clarity about your priorities and acknowledging your strengths and limits, will enable you to remain focused on what needs to be done. This includes knowing who to turn to for support given the position you’re in and putting up boundaries where necessary to prevent further resource depletion.
By knowing yourself in advance, you will be able to better prepare and overcome anxiety when something unexpected happens.
#2 Exercise your power of being in control. In order to do so, you need to first develop consciousness on what is within your circle of control. Stephen Covey’s Circles of Control, Influence and Concern model is a great tool to help you break the problem down so that it’s less overwhelming. The model suggests categorising and prioritising your worries into 2 main parts - things you can do something about (Circles of Control and Influence) and things you can’t do anything about (Circle of Concern).
Control: Starting with this circle, ask yourself what elements of the issue are within your control e.g. your behaviours, actions, attitudes, outlook and decisions. Then, direct your time and energy towards tackling these elements.
Influence: If there are elements that are not within your control, check if you can exert influence on them to support you in eliminating the issue. For example, people - your family, friends and colleagues or environments - home, work and play.
Concern: Finally, if the issue or elements of the issue are out of your control and influence, let these go by accepting them as a concern that you can do nothing about e.g. spread of virus, actions of others and impact on the economy.
Knowing what you’re in control of and can influence will help you navigate through the issue more effectively and confine stress to a manageable level.
#3 Master the art of letting go and take back control. It’s true that this is easier said than done but it is certainly not impossible. In my personal experience, there is an active way to do this and a passive way; but they are not mutually exclusive.
Active: I call this the distraction technique where you channel your energy into doing something that requires concentration. For instance, any form of workout or simply casting pebbles on the water. Besides being somewhat symbolic - like sweating the concern out, stomping on the issue or tossing the problem away - the dedicated focus needed for these activities will not allow for any more bandwidth left for worrying.
Passive: This is the emptying method where you depressurise to come back to your core and be whole again. Poetry-writing, knitting, mindfulness meditation, prayer - even screaming into a pillow or vast expanse are some common tension-relinquishing practices. When you’re fully present, you will be able to recognise what you want or need and can focus on taking the right actions to achieve it.
Having the ability to release the weights that weren’t yours to bear to begin with will ease your load and empower you to move forward more swiftly.
So, start doing these 3 things today to be better prepared in managing stress and overcoming anxiety, even in times of uncertainties.
What is your top tip for dealing with stress? Drop me a comment below.
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