Navigating through our days can be challenging in the best of times. When disturbing national and worldwide events happen, there’s an extra layer of stress, especially when they happen back to back. When we’re stressed, we tend to have less patience and a shorter fuse; we may find ourselves feeling uncharacteristically tense, irritated or angry. We may see ourselves reacting impulsively; we may be quicker to criticize and show less civility to others.
In recent months, we’ve seen increases in community, national and worldwide tragedies. At the same time, we’ve witnessed other lower level but pervasive changes: a level of incivility not previously seen by individuals vying to be our leaders, social media instantly and relentlessly broadcasting uncensored thoughts and opinions, the practice of publicly ‘shaming’ other individuals, and the like. At the same time, the availability of up-to-the-minute information about virtually every shocking and negative event may have us believing that the world as we know it is truly falling apart. If you’ve found yourself feeling increasingly tense, the collective impact of these trends may be a contributing factor.
So, how do you stay peaceful and keep your dignity intact during periods of anxiety?
Here are a few ideas from our Employee Assistance Program, Workplace Solutions:
- Remind yourself of who you are – who and what do you value? What’s important in the big picture? How do you choose to live your values?
- Use the ‘reasonable’ question: when faced with a decision, ask yourself, “What is reasonable in this situation?” Your answer can help guide your choices.
- Acknowledge as best you can when you have strong negative feelings – anger, frustration, sadness, apathy and fear. Being able to name our reaction and recognize what sets it off helps us feel more in control of ourselves and the situation.
- If you find yourself doing more blaming or coming to negative conclusions, ask yourself: “Is there another way I can look at this situation? Am I jumping to conclusions? Does my interpretation fit the facts of the situation?”
- Learn to limit distractions and uncensored ‘free flow’ of information. Become aware of how frequently you check your devices, go to online news/entertainment, or interact with other forms of electronic communication. Media sources can be experts at playing to our emotions – especially the strong ones – in order to gain readership or eyeballs. When you’re aware of how you respond to various types of media, you can choose to spend less time and energy on things that aren’t important to you.
- Give yourself time to remember why you are doing what you are doing, whatever it happens to be.
- Introduce ‘slow’ time – a period once a day, once a week (whatever works) to do something slowly and deliberately. Start with five minutes and see what happens.
- When you have a strong reaction to something, ask yourself, “Is it worth the emotional energy that I’m putting into it?”
- Remind yourself that you have a choice about how you choose to respond – to anything.
- Make sure you have people close to you who can provide a reality check when needed…and for whom you can do the same.
Workplace Solutions EAP is a member of the Tandem Family of Companies. For more information on how your business can become more productive utilizing EAP services, contact us today at 630.928.0510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.