Under normal circumstances most of us are stressed. According to the American Institute of Stress:
- Four in five (83 percent) U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress.
- U.S. businesses lose up to $300 billion yearly as a result of workplace stress.
- Stress causes around 1 million workers to miss work every day.
- Work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths and results in $190 billion in healthcare costs yearly.
We are no longer in normal circumstances. We’re facing social distancing and isolation, stock market volatility, and record-setting unemployment. How do we cope?
Here are five ways to manage stress during this time:
1. Grieve: It is okay to feel badly. It is normal to get down. However, it’s unhelpful to you and those close to you to stay there. Find a way to grieve. Talk with a trusted confidant. Write in a journal. I know people who write down all their pain and grief then burn the paper in a fire. Just find something that works for you.
2. Let Go: Admit you can’t control everything. The idea seems scary but is absolutely freeing. Once you acknowledge you have no control over the economy or your 401K, you can focus your energy on the things you can control—namely your thoughts, the way you spend your time, and the choices you make.
3. Convert Your Thinking: Take a moment to look at what has been taking up your mind space and what is keeping you up at night then convert those thoughts that are out of your control back into your control. For instance, “I don’t have a job and no one is hiring,” can be converted into “What can I do to differentiate myself from all of the other people looking for a job?” or “What can I start doing to create some income for my household?”
4. Make a Plan: Once you identify what you can do to address your concerns, you can build a plan based on your conscious choices. You will need to put that plan into concrete terms. What will you do? When? How often? What tools do you need? How will you know you are making progress? What barriers will you face and how will you deal with them?
5. Change Your Mindset: Mindset matters. Your messaging will make a difference. Are you coming across as needy or directed? Do people see you as an asset or self-absorbed? Right now, some people are still trying to conduct business as if it is business as usual, and they are destroying their reputations in the process. Why call a company to tell them you can help them recruit when you know they are laying off people? People are calling and asking for work when everyone is in this new reality. When you communicate with others you will need to look at the situation from their point of view and not just yours.
Bottom line: Get up each day and follow your plan. What will differentiate you from everyone else is discipline and consistency. What will ensure your ability to work through the extreme circumstances that we’re facing is your competence to execute.
Plans without actions are dreams. And if you want to dream, keep clinging to the illusion that you control everything and see how that works for you. It is not an easy road. You will have to pave it, but it will be your road.
Brad Federman is the chief operating officer of F&H Solutions Group, which merged in 2013, with Federman’s performance improvement company, Performancepoint, LLC. He also is an author, speaker, and consultant with more than 22 years of corporate experience in various aspects of human resources, including performance management, employee engagement, employee compensation, executive recruiting, change management, and instructional design. His background also includes sales, marketing, product development, and operations.
Previously, Federman was the executive vice president of Novations Group and has held leadership positions with Accenture and Humana Inc. He is a frequently requested featured speaker at conferences and business meetings worldwide. He is the author of Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance, and Increasing Loyalty and a contributing author to 101 Ways to Enhance Your Career. He also has been interviewed for articles in numerous publications such as Fortune Small Business, Los Angeles Times and HR Magazine.