Does the global pandemic, economic downturn, and mass uncertainty have you on edge? The American workforce has experienced increases in anxiety, depression, and clinical stress due to COVID-19. As July approaches, many are returning to the workplace, some are continuing to work from home, and others are filing for unemployment. What’s the common denominator between these situations? Successfully managing stress and uncertainty, and building resilience.
What is resilience?
Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant sources of stress, according to Everyday Health. Like any skill, resilience can be developed to help manage stress and emotions during times of crisis. Below are strategies for employees and employers to help strengthen a resilient mind amid COVID-19.
Feelings of uncertainty stem from a lack of control. Your lifestyle has drastically changed, yet you still have work responsibilities and family needs to care for. The first step in building resilience is to recognize stress as a normal human response to crisis. Your anxiety, anger, and depression are natural and justified feelings.
- Become self-aware: Resilience requires an individual to go against their brain’s normal response when faced with the unknown. By becoming more self-aware, we have the opportunity to choose positive responses that will lead to cognitive change, explains Alanna Fincke, meQuilibrium’s senior vice president of content in a recent webinar.
To become more self-aware:
- Identify the thought or feeling you are having.
- Pay attention to your automatic or triggered reaction. For example, opening the fridge when you feel stressed.
- Evaluate options for positive responses instead.
- Choose to act accordingly.
“We’re wired to react to threats, but resilience is a skill set that can be developed, and good habits are reinforced with repetition,” explains Fincke. For example, purposeful changes to emotional responses can lead to the development of healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, a healthier diet, or better sleep schedule.
- Stay connected – Keeping in touch with friends, family, and coworkers plays a crucial role in maintaining positive mental health during social distancing. Having a support network, especially during a pandemic, will be helpful on your path toward resilience. Here are healthy social distancing strategies.
- Practice coping methods: Learning coping methods will prepare you for the emotional shifts that come during times of crisis, explains Everyday Health.
- Deep breathing: calms the central nervous system during times of panic or general discomfort.
- Meditation: create a daily habit of quieting your mind and focusing on your breath to relieve built-up stress.
- Exercise: daily exercise is a natural stress reliever. You don’t need to engage in high intensity workouts to experience these benefits. Simply taking a walk everyday will do wonders for the mind.
You can help employees maintain positive health and well-being.
Communicate frequently – Staying well-connected with your team is important during times of crisis. They are relying on you for guidance, transparency, and reassurance. When bad new must be shared, find a way to highlight the positive side, says Fincke. If the bad news is layoffs due to COVID-19, ensure employees understand why that difficult decision had to be made.
Listen and adapt – The other half of effective communication is active listening. It’s one thing to ask a coworker how they are doing and listen to their response, it’s another to truly hear what they are saying. Ask follow–up questions, share your own personal experiences, and show your support. By looking for communication patterns among your team, you may find it beneficial to address issues in a larger setting.