Keep going! 3 tips for feeling calmer in a time of turmoil

There is so much change and uncertainty at the moment. This can knock our confidence. How can we protect our well being?

Tip 1: Think 'thank you'

If you feel like screaming 'What happened to the world? Let me off!!' it may seem strange to recommend saying thank you. You may ask 'for what?'. But shift your perspective and there will be plenty of answers to that question.

Get to the end of the day and ask yourself a positive open question 'What am I grateful for?' It could be the lack of a pain or a problem. Of someone may have helped you in a small way. Or something may have made you smile. Write it down or record it. Doing so will make you feel a bit better. And sometimes it is only that small improvement which can tip us back into feeling just ok enough to keep going.

Tip 2: Focus on what you can control

When we feel overwhelmed, every problem from the weather or the blocked sink to the overbearing boss can loom equally large. And when that happens we feel powerless and even more stressed. 

To keep issues in proportion it helps to look at what you can and cannot control. So with the examples above, the one over which you have least control is the weather. But you can adjust your response to the weather by e.g. choosing what you wear (and making sure it is free of holes if it is pouring down!). And the domestic challenge (the blocked sink) - what control do you have? What resources do you need? if you are a dab hand at DIY then maybe it is just a case of making time. If not, who could help? Annoying though the problem is, once you have decided who or what you need to sort it, the stress should reduce. 

With the human problem (the boss), as with the weather, you cannot change the person and their behaviour but you could change your response to them by recognising and deciding to alter your inner language (mindset).

Tip 3: Just work out the next step.

Fans of Dave Allen's Getting Things Done will already know this mind trick. When stressed and worried, our minds can obsessively keep repeating a whole set of tasks we need to do. As with the examples under Tip 1, it tends to 'file' anything from finishing your PhD thesis to remembering to pick up milk from the shop as of equal value. 

To free our mind and be able to prioritise, we need to pin down only the next action we need to take for each 'heading' in our mind. Writing this down or recording it in some way works. So for the huge tasks (such as finishing your thesis) figure out exactly what you need to do next – even if it is a tiny task. And write that down or record it in some way. And be specific, scheduling when and how you will do this if possible. So 'Buy milk at shop on way home tomorrow' works better than just 'Remember to buy milk'. Once you have done this your mind should feel satisfied that you have 'dealt' with the tasks and stop nagging you about them.

So finally, practising what I have just preached, I would like to:

  • Thank you very much for your time and reading this blog. Many of us are 'time-poor' so I appreciate it.
  • Appreciate that I have able full editorial control of the text, even if I still feel pretty technophobic and slightly in awe of the software...
  • Decide to write my next blog by the end of March (rather than this one after a gap of a year!).

I hope these ideas help you to keep going. If they did, try the tips on my coaching page. And please send me any reactions or comments.


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