Coping with Stress During Uncertain Times
Unpredictability and change can be fun at times. It’s just one of the reasons theme parks, bungee jumping and parachuting out of perfectly good airplanes are popular recreational activities. But sometimes the stress of uncertainty creates more stress than the certainty bad things are coming.
Working in healthcare, you are well aware of uncertainty when a diagnosis may take several different paths. Being on the frontlines during this viral pandemic has placed healthcare workers in a position of uncertainty. How can you cope with the stress?
Steps to Stress Reduction
The most important strategy for coping during times of stress is to change your mindset. What you think is under your control. You may not control the fleeting thoughts that pass through your brain, but you do control the ones you invite to stick around. Changing your mindset requires a little effort, but the rewards are outstanding.
Every recommendation you read will include preparing for stress. You should develop a strong support system with friends and family who will support you. Engage in activities that help burn off excess energy, focus your mind, and support your physical and mental health. These may include exercise, dancing, and yoga. Prepare to turn off feelings of overwhelming stress intentionally by using your rational mind.
The inner fight or flight alarm is there to alert you when something is wrong, but you don’t have to concentrate on the feelings of fear. Instead, take a moment, and try to shift your thinking elsewhere. Bring your thoughts to something that brings your peace and calmness. This is essential when it comes to stress, as it allows you to assess the situation from a rational mindset.
Former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink recommends you assess your situation. Separate the factors that you can’t control from the things you can control. For example, you can’t control the spread of a viral infection, but you can support your immune system, wear a mask, and arm yourself with information to help fight a virus. You can’t control an economic downturn, but you can manage your budget, spending, and investing.
Now prioritize those things you can control and take on one at a time. You can’t do ten things at once, or you’ll fail. But, in the same way, you prioritize and execute a plan at work to keep your patients safe, you do the most important thing first and move on from there.
Now, armed with what you can do against the viral infection, you can take action. Taking action to prepare yourself against what seems uncertain builds your resilience, strength, and pushes back the stress of coping with uncertainty.
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