Let’s be honest, 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. It’s easy to catch tragic or disappointing news around every corner with a quick scroll of our social media timelines. As our minds are consumed by the developments of the global pandemic and we see the livelihoods of many affected by the economic downturn, it’s not surprising that some of us may start to feel mentally overwhelmed. Here’s how we can combat that.
1. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Some live by the principle ‘no expectations, no disappointments’ and maybe there is some truth in that. During these challenging times, it’s okay not to meet your initial expectations and to readjust your target goals and plans.
Do not underestimate the emotional load that this pandemic brings, or the impact it will have on your productivity. Low motivation and a state of distraction are to be expected.
Adapting will take time and we should not be too hard on ourselves. As we settle into our new rhythm of remote work and isolation, we need to set realistic goals, both for ourselves and others in our charge.
2. EAT AND SLEEP WELL
It sounds like a no brainer but you would be surprised by how difficult it is to maintain healthy habits when your mind is constantly clouded.
Try to lay a solid foundation for your mental health and well-being by prioritizing your sleep, and practise good sleep hygiene. For example, avoid blue lights before bed, and maintain a routine around your sleep and wake up timings.
Eat well. Be conscious of what you take in and find time to exercise. It will help to lower your stress levels and help you to better regulate your emotions and improve your sleep.
3. KNOW YOUR RED FLAGS
One way to manage moments of distress is to identify key thoughts or physical sensations that tend to contribute to your cycle of distress and feelings of being overwhelmed. For example, you may be compulsively checking the latest COVID-19 statistics and not realise that it feeds and amplifies the negative emotions you are feeling.
Upon acknowledging your red flags, you can then find ways to overcome this. One way is to practise mindful breathing – breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for four then repeat. This helps you lower your anxiety and regain control.
4. ROUTINE IS YOUR FRIEND
Start a simple routine by creating clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your head space. This is especially so if you are working remotely from your office.
Start the day every morning on the right note with a nutritious breakfast. End your day by dedicating an hour to reading a good book perhaps. How you want your routine to be is up to you.
Shut down from work and find something to do that brings you joy. Working with clear breaks will help to maintain your clarity of thought.
5. BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS
The way we talk to ourselves can either provide a powerful buffer to these difficult circumstances or amplify our distress.
Moments of feeling overwhelmed often come with big thoughts, such as “I cannot do this,” or “This is too hard.” This will naturally cause a lot of stress for many of us, and we cannot be our best selves all the time. It’s okay to reach out for help or find someone to be your listening ear during time. You do not have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders alone.
It is also during these times where you discover that you may not be the only one who has been feeling down lately. Be kind and compassionate to others too if they try to reach out to you.
6. MAINTAIN CONNECTIONS
Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our mental and physical health. We are in social isolation, but we need not feel alone.
Try working virtually in the presence of your friends or colleagues. Schedule video calls to catch up with close friends and family. Reach out to those whom you think might be particularly isolated too.
7. MANAGE UNCERTAINTY BY STAYING IN THE PRESENT
Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. Take some time to meditate and reflect on what you have achieved, what you are thankful for and what you are going to do next.
The year will come to end sooner than you realise. Let’s end the year on a good note, with a vision and mental drive for the year to come.
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