Control what you can and let go of what you cannot
Right now it is hard to be optimistic about the future. It can help to gain perspective by focusing on what you can control and not waste your energy on the things you can't control. This downloadable infographic sets out a framework to help you achieve this.
Each day we will find that there are all sorts of things that worry and concern us. These range from crisis issues such as the current pandemic to everyday matters such as what we are going to eat tonight. These problems are in the following categories:
1. Problems that worry us and over which we have no control
2. Problems that worry us which we can influence but cannot resolve
3. Problems that worry us and which we can do something about to improve the situation
Human beings are wired to be on alert to things that might be harmful or dangerous and take evasive action. This means that we have a natural inclination to worry about everything that concerns us even if it is outside our control. This phenomenon is called the negativity bias.
In normal times, our negativity bias is like to be triggered by a poorly crafted email, delays in travel or an awkward conversation. The resulting bad mood, frustration and stress is bad enough, but in a crisis, our negativity bias goes into overload. Then our primitive instinct of fight, flight or freeze kicks in. When this happens, we can tip into patterns of behaviour that are driven by fear and anxiety. Shifting your mindset is the key to being in a more resourceful state. But how do you do this?
It can help to gain perspective by focusing on what you can control and not wasting your energy on the things you can't control - as this downloadable infographic illustrates.
What else can you add to this list? Take a few minutes to think about the things that you can do today that will make you feel more capable of coping.
For example, you can control how you approach your work. Perhaps choosing to focus on one task at a time instead of multi-tasking which is an insidious form of self-interruption. Multi-tasking is just toggling your working memory between between one thing and another. It ruins your focus and quickly depletes your energy. A smarter way to work is one task at time with regular planned breaks.
You can also decide to take moments of pause and recognise what has gone well during the day. Think about what you have achieved to inspire you for the next day. Make a note of them for future reference. Manage specific concerns by focusing on how important they are and rate them this way. Then think about who can support you. Who knows you best? How might you support them in return? After all, we are all in this together.
Some also find it soothing to remember the words from the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
There are many useful resources to support people in during this crisis and beyond. Here are a few that I hope you find helpful: