It’s challenging to get work done with everything that’s going on in the world.
Seems like every breaking news alert brings our work to a halt and puts us into an emotional rollercoaster.
But no matter how this situation is impacting you, you need to take proactive steps to calm your mind and take of yourself so you can actually get work done.
I’m not an expert in self care, but here are some ideas that have helped me:
- Drastically limit your media consumption. Our amygdala (the fear center of our brain) is on overdrive right now — and consuming more news isn’t helping. As tempting as it might be to do so, tuning into the news media all the time isn’t going to give you new insights. So try to cut back on your media consumption.
- Limit your social media consumption. Supposedly, we all need to be on social media to stay in touch with others now that more of us are working from home. Sounds so good on paper, doesn’t it? But in my opinion, social media has an incredible amount of toxic information on it right now. It’s either sounding alarms or shaming people. And trying to have open and honest discussion with friends and relatives often leads to heated arguments that do more harm than good. So if you insist on going on social media, make it only once a day and give yourself a time limit.
- Give people a call. Instead of using social media to connect with people, give them a call instead. Or use Zoom or FaceTime to connect face to face. And when you do, don’t let the news dominate the conversation. Yes, discuss what’s happening in the world. Share your feelings openly. If you have opposing views, engage in healthy debate while keeping an open mind. But catch up on other things as well.
- Find an accountability peer. Find a peer and agree to check in with each other at least twice a week. Talk about what you’ve accomplished, what you’re concerned about and what you have planned. Agree that it’s OK to share fears, but you won’t stew over the situation. Having someone who understands you and has your back is very powerful.
- Meditate. Already meditating? Try adding one more session to your day, even if it’s super short.
- Go for walks. There’s nothing like moving away from your desk and getting some fresh air. It clears your head and help you process information better.
- Get plenty of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can make a huge difference in your ability to focus. Try to establish a bed time and bedtime routine that you can stick with.
- Eat well. What you consume impacts how you feel and how well you can focus. Eating healthy nutritious food is good for body and mind.
- Exercise. Gyms might still be closed in some places, but hopefully you can still get out for a jog, bike ride or vigorous walk. If you have to stay in your home, yoga and weight training are still options. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, which helps with focus.
- Help others. Find out how you can help others. It could be grocery shopping for high-risk neighbors, helping your local animal shelter or donating to a charity. When you take the focus away from you and put it on others, it triggers oxytocin (the feel-good hormone), which counteracts cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Read fiction. Something fun or funny, if possible.
- Read something helpful or inspirational every day. I like to read books that talk about resilience, grit or overcoming huge odds. The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday and Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins are great picks.
- Watch an uplifting movie or series. Some of my personal favorites are Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man and The Shawshank Redemption. Here are a few more.
- Play with your kids or your pets. There’s nothing like a game of catch or fetch to re-set your brain and help you feel more refreshed when you get back to work.
- Be kind to yourself. These are extraordinary times. So if you find you’re not performing to your usual standards, don’t beat yourself up about it. Wipe the slate clean and start fresh the next day. Now more than ever, it’s important to be kind to yourself.
These are challenging times for many of us, no question.
But even so, there’s a lot you can do to take care of yourself — and help to stay focused and productive.
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