The social distancing measures we’ve adopted in the face of this global pandemic have caused many people to feel increased stress, isolation and loneliness, which not only takes a toll on our mental health but also negatively impacts our work performance. Here are some expert tips to help you and your team get through the crisis without letting these negative emotions take control.
Social distancing has separated us from our family, friends and co-workers, but being alone doesn’t need to mean lonely, says a new article from Harvard Business Review Ascend.
In the first week or two, many people probably saw the lockdowns as a chance to finally do all the things they wanted to do if only they had the time—learn a new skill or language, read more, try some new recipes, even just clean out their email Inbox. But as the weeks pass by, this forced alone time can lead to feelings of isolation.
How can you combat loneliness?
- The first step is to acknowledge your feelings and be on the lookout for these signs of loneliness: reduced motivation to get up on time or engage in regular forms of physical exercise; excessive procrastination; insomnia; drinking or smoking more than usual.
- When you start to feel helpless, try to remember that this situation is temporary.
- Pay attention to what you read and watch while at home. Obsessively reviewing live updates on COVID-19 may give the impression that nothing is changing and could increase your feelings of helplessness. Try to choose TV and media options that are more uplifting.
- Find a project that gives you creative control and a sense of achievement—even something as simple as a puzzle or Lego assembly. Better yet, take advantage of a free online course.
- Reach out to family, friends and colleagues, whether through a phone call, text message, social media or a videoconferencing app.
- Show yourself compassion and don’t compare yourself to others. It’s OK to feel grief, anxiety and even loneliness. It’s OK to be less motivated and productive. It’s OK if you don’t use your lockdown time to learn a new language or how to play an instrument.
Rituals can help us manage extreme emotions and stress during turbulent times—such as coping with the anxiety and grief produced by a global pandemic, says a new article from Harvard Business Review Senior Editor Scott Berinato.
Personal rituals can help lessen our grief after a loss, make us feel closer to our families or reinforce our commitment to our partner. Even little things like how you get ready in the morning or walking the same route during your lunch break can become ritualistic. These rituals, in moderation, can help us gain a sense of control and reduce anxiety and stress.
With the pandemic changing so much in our lives, people are using technology to recreate their rituals as best they can, scheduling virtual dinners, happy hours or even game nights so they can still interact with family and friends. Others are creating whole new rituals—for example, “one company has started all its virtual meetings by having participants click on images of Patrick from SpongeBob to indicate how they’re feeling.” This kind of ritual may seem silly, but it gives people a sense of familiarity in a new and uncomfortable situation.
Source: The Restorative Power of Ritual
Work-related stress can leave us feeling helpless. While the cause of that stress may be out of our hands, we can still learn to control our response to it, says emotional intelligent expert Harvey Deutschendorf in a Fast Company article.
Among his tips:
- Don’t be a hero. Let your team know that you’ve reached your limit and can’t handle additional work or interruptions at the moment.
- Ease up on the controls. Inability to delegate and the need to micromanage will just lead to increased stress and burnout. Start by looking for small, one-time tasks or projects you can hand off to others. Delegating effectively is about giving others an initial leeway to fail and learn from their failures before getting it right.
- Ask for help. Needing assistance sometimes isn’t a sign of weakness, and most people are more than willing to lend a hand when it matters.
- Take time out. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is step away from your work to recharge and regenerate. Go for a walk, meditate, sit outside for half an hour and just do nothing.