The uncertainty of what the New Normal is going to be is stressing you out.
With each new development as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses we learn more how to best deal with this situation. The 1918 Spanish Flu has valuable historical lessons, but we are in a vastly different era.
Society was mostly agrarian and even the largest cities were not as populated as today. Travel was different, information sharing was different, technology and people's attitudes were vastly different.
Today we find ourselves in a great unknown.
Fear of the unknown is often cited as a leading cause of anxiety and life stress.
Even if people say marriage, work, or finances is the problem, it is often the uncertain nature within those problems that is the cause of the stress.
We are creatures of habit. We create habit and routine not just for convenience but because they offer a sense of control. When life throws us a curveball it removes our comfort and challenges our sense of control.
It is important to understand the nature of stress, the anxiety it creates, and the factors which determine if the stressful situation is a positive growth opportunity or a negative descent into distress.
Good Stress & Bad Stress - Stress is a Motivator
Stress is a natural part of life. Nothing happens without stress. If we are always comfortable, we are not motivated to make any kind of change in our lives. Stress can be a big motivator. Stress can motivate a person towards the stressor in a sense of active engagement to solve the problem.
Good stress is generally a positive experience marked by growth or progress.
Bad stress can also motivate a person away from the stressor in a sense of avoidance to escape the problem. This is marked by anxiety and distress.
What determines whether stress is experienced as positive or negative?
It is the perception of the stress by the person experiencing it, and the key determinant in perception is attitude.
Attitude is everything. This is never truer than when dealing with the adversities of life. It is a person’s belief in the adequacy of their resources, skills, talents, intelligence, finances, etc. to help them succeed that will determine if they approach a problem as a challenge to be overcome (fight response) or a danger to be avoided (flight response).
In short, we make an assessment about our odds. It is critical for you to become aware of your patterns of self-evaluation. Do you tend to automatically follow negative emotions, doubt yourself, and predict worst case scenarios and outcomes, or do you practice optimism, look at situations realistically and envision favorable results?
Human beings are constantly predicting the future in their heads. The problem arises when people fall into patterns of negative expectations. Taking notice of your patterns of thought takes regular practice and is not always easy but is well worth the effort, because there is no greater recipe for anxiety, depression, and failure than falling into the habit of negative thinking.
Negative thoughts lead to painful, distressing emotions which tend to lead to negative behavior, and negative outcomes. This of course tends to reinforce the habit of negative thinking, creating a self-defeating cycle.
There are healthy and productive ways to cope with the anxiety of uncertainty. They take your attention and commitment to practice. The following tips will help you better deal with the stress of uncertainty.
Tip 1: Focus on You (Self and Family)
Mass media coverage of the pandemic tends to draw our attention to the world stage, the “Big Picture”. This is a realm where we have little influence. It is an issue of not seeing the trees for the forest. Focus on and take positive action only on the things you can control.
Tip 2: Communicate With Your Family
In most situations, if there is a problem, enhanced communication is a key part of the solution.
Tip 3: Get Support
You have been encouraged to act with positive purpose and to model confidence but trying to force a positive attitude or be optimistic all the time is unrealistic and can lead to burnout.
Tip 4: Unplug
Getting away from it all can be a big help. Technology is good, but sometimes you need a break.
Tip 5: Get moving
Regular exercise is an effective stress reliever and reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
These 5 simple tips will help reduce stress for you and your family.
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