In times of stress, especially with uncertainty and complexity like we’re experiencing right now, it’s hard to not feel anxious, overwhelmed and to have the desire to ‘hold on’ tighter. What I mean by this is people tend to try to control their environment, to create certainty, and to become rigid with routine.
Though it may not feel natural at first, the best way to reduce stress is to allow yourself to “let go.” Finding ways to unplug even if you’re unable to go far should be practiced every day. To become accustomed to this practice, I would suggest trying a few things out for a week. At the end of the week, notice what works for you and what doesn’t. Adjust and continue your practice for the next week, the next week after that, and for weeks beyond that. There isn’t one size that fits everything. The point to keep asking yourself where your stress is coming from and what will help guide you through it.
- Connect with nature around you.
When was the last time you took a walk, hike or bike ride and really absorbed all the sights around you? With the shift in the weather, there are new blooms, insects, and a different smell in the air. What do you notice today that you didn’t yesterday? Explore and talk about this with others in your life. Ask those in your life what they are experiencing. Talking about nature helps to create connections and a desire to get outside more. It also gives everyone something to talk about other than what problems we’re experiencing in the world.
- Create a routine for yourself and others in your household.
During uncertain times, especially when working from home, it can be easy to fall into a false sense of freedom. A lull of sorts. Like every day is a weekend. Even though this may be a fun place to be for a while, for many people, a lack of structure creates stress. If you find that you feel more stress and notice you don’t have a ‘routine’, create a structure/routine that works for you. For more on this, check out this helpful article.
- Invest 30-minutes a day in some sort of physical exercise, three to five times per week.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is one of the most important things you can do to reduce stress. Depending on your current physical state, you’ll want to start slowly and engage your physician in providing guidance. Suggestions for working out from home include:
- Take 5-10 minutes walks around your neighborhood 3x a day
- Try some on-demand video options for weight training for beginners
- If you like dancing, you could try out Jazzercise — take it slow though
- Learn relaxation techniques (meditate, sitting still, “centering self”)
If you are one of the many who believe you are incapable of sitting still or quieting your mind, try a meditation app for 5 to 10 minutes a day for a week and see what happens. If you are curious about the benefits of meditation and like to read to absorb the meaning and value of meditation, another alternative would be to read a book that I personally like such as Passage Meditation, which provides information on meditation, the value of mantras, things such as single-tasking (one-pointed attention), and training your senses.
Yes, breathe…practicing relaxing breathing techniques have been proven to reduce anxiety and stress. One of the things I love about breathing is that you can do it anywhere. Breathing can happen in-between calls, on short walks, stepping outside, or just sitting quietly at your desk. A powerful breathing technique is commonly referred to as the 4-7-8. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this 10 times and you should be ready to face what’s next.
- Practice gratitude daily.
Take time at the beginning or end of each day to write down 2-3 things you are grateful for. These items can be written in a journal, on a calendar or in OneNote. Then, at the end of each week, read what you wrote. You’ll find that this practice will help you look toward the future with a new sense of possibility.
Practicing one, two or all these things will help you navigate more clearly and confidently through the changes we are experiencing in the world today and will begin to transform your life for the long term.
Contact me and let me know what you are integrating into your life and what you are learning!
Wishing you connection, safety, health and a sense of calm during these uncertain times.
About the Author
Joan (Joni) Hibdon, Owner of jdh Insights, LLC also consults with Fahrenheit Advisors in Phoenix, AZ and HR Choice in Denver, CO. Joan builds and maintains strong relationships with clients by connecting with all the relevant human aspects of business. Joan has over 25 years of experience leading all aspects of human resources in a variety of global organizations. Her expertise includes coaching, consulting, and providing learning and development services focused on cultivating leadership and creating extraordinary employee experiences in public, private and nonprofit organizations. She is also adept at converting strategy into practical applications and guiding companies through change management initiatives to achieve organizational success. Questions for Joan? Email her at Joan Hibdon