Managing Stress During A Crisis
With over 960,000 cases in 180 countries, the world has not experienced an extensive crisis such as Coronavirus in decades. Several new policies have been implemented by nations to fight the battle against the novel Coronavirus. Subsequently, this has significantly and rapidly altered the manners in which we used to live, whether it is in a social, professional, personal or academic environment. This has given rise to several emotions – confusion, anxiety, sadness, frustration, helplessness to name a few. All of these emotions are under the umbrella of stress.
Stress management is at the pinnacle of importance in time of a crisis. A mind riddled with stress, fear and panic will hinder us from being productive and having a positive mental health.
Working virtually can be lonely, distracting and lethargic. Therefore, the first step is to establish an organised work routine.The more orderly you are, the easier it becomes to tackle work-related issues. It is advisable not to be tempted by the laid-back characteristics of remote work sessions. This will make it harder to get back into rhythm after the crisis. Having a distinguishable work-life balance will also help in creating healthy boundaries.
Try to have a similar structure as you would if you were going to work. Preserving normalcy to the best possible extent is fundamental for stress resilience.
Some tips would be to establish priorities for the day, have a separate table for work purposes, have a proper meal at a designated time, try not to work in your pyjamas (however tempting it may be) and lastly after finishing your tasks leave the table and relax in a different space.
The second step is to not practice social distancing, but only physical distancing. Although face-to-face conferences are impossible during the lockdown, technology offers us a viable remedy. It is necessary to increase communication virtually to preserve the team-spirit which may be lost during self-isolation. This is especially important if you are in a position of responsibility such as the manager of a company or human resource responsible to build trust and empathy. This can be done through a ritual of briefing, checking-in, breaks and feedback. You should let them know that you care. Using reassuring language is the first step. If resources are available, Employee Assistant Programs (EPAs) where workers can call directly and privately could be a great option. It can be greatly beneficial to use corporate culture during a crisis to help your employees.
Secondly, leaders in the professional sphere should strive to be transparent. This can be done for example by discussing coping mechanisms, governmental health protocols and company hygiene policies. Information is the best weapon against anxiety. However, remember not to overwhelm them by repeating unfortunate information several times a day.
Transparency also extends to discussing possible outcomes for the employees in case of changes in the workplace during the crisis. The world is plunged into uncertainty and the effect of it is global stress and misinformation. The same could apply to your work environment as employees may have reduced motivation or partake in gossip or overwork themselves,all of which can lead to extreme stress.
In such desperate times, it is imperative to nurture work-place compassion. This would not only reduce stress at work, but refrain from it spilling to your personal time as well. Request the employees to take small breaks, and switch off after work. This creates a wholesome stress management code of conduct that is inclusive of not only you but also your colleagues/employees.
It is necessary to remember that the Coronavirus crisis will soon be over, and these challenging times will teach us effective stress management techniques as an individual and as a unit. By effectively managing stress you can improve your professional life while also taking care of your mental health.