Stressiety

Stressiety the unwelcome guest in our homes, whilst sitting at our table, eating our food, wine/ craft beer/prosecco. The carousing neighbour that robs us of our sleep, invading our thoughts and actions – the unexpected consequence of COVID-19

As we all dig deep into our emotional reserves to try and find a way to navigate the new normal, many of us are having to assume the role of scrum master, procurement ninja, financial adviser, educator, head of entertainment and fitness guru. It is no wonder that we are all currently experiencing Stressiety (anxious, stressed out and emotionally bankrupt).

We are to all intents and purposes in the midst of a global state of grief and it’s only natural that we should feel a sense of loss, anger, fear and anxiety, as this is a perfectly normal reaction to change and uncertainty.

The change model below, will help you to put things into perspective and will also help you to understand where you are in terms of your ‘change ‘journey’.

2 weeks ago, I found myself at stage five of the ‘change journey’. I furloughed myself from social media, friends and family. I doubled down on my lockdown, watched innate drivel on Netflix and endured a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from inexplicable bouts of sadness to tears and anger. This phase lasted for around 7 days and I am pleased to say that I have now arrived at stage 7. Whilst stage 5 was exhausting, I somehow knew that it would pass and that it was important that I surrender to process so that I could get to the other side.

Even though as human beings we are hardwired to connect, for many working from home, will come as a welcomed respite; no early start, and no long commute on packed trains. Whilst remote working for others will only serve as a reminder of their isolation and loneliness, as work for some of your employees is an integral part of their social interaction.
Some of your employees will be struggling to manage the ‘juggle’, whilst for others, lockdown will amplify the problems in their personal relationships; whether that be a divorce/break-up, a coercive or abusive relationship, social isolation is a reminder that their home is not a sanctuary but a place of danger, further exacerbating their Stressiety levels.

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt and challenge businesses and leadership in so many ways, how you respond and treat your teams will have a lasting impact on employee behaviours, engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

Here are my 4 tips for supporting your employees to avoid Stressiety and burnout during lockdown

Demonstrate that Employee Wellbeing is a Priority

  • Revisit your current policies to ensure that they are fit for purpose; do they address the physical, mental, and financial health of your employees?
  • Remove the stigma of mental health by creating a space that encourages meaningful conversations about employee wellbeing
  • Gauge the happiness and wellbeing of your organisation during lockdown so you can understand the pain points and put interventions in place to support your teams

Use Technology as a Mental Health Resource

In 2018/19 there were 602,000 cases of work-related stress, depression, and anxiety and 12 million days were lost in the UK due to work related stress, yet many are unsure whether their company offers comprehensive mental health resources.

Consider offering

  • Meditation Apps
  • Exercise Apps
  • Virtual Counselling
  • Virtual Mental Health Education platforms so that your teams can learn coping mechanisms and strategies

Communicate

Transparency is key during times of uncertainty.

  • Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand how your employees are feeling
  • Ensure that your HR team is signposting your employees to your wellbeing resources
    • Keep asking questions
    • How can we help?
    • What can we do differently?
    • What do you need?
    • Whats keeping your employees awake at night?
  • If your business is having to pivot or make changes as result of COVID-19, get a head of the rumour mill by communicating this to your employees

Practice Empathy

Businesses are in the unenviable position of having to strike a balance between financial stability, strategy, and employee well-being. Which is why an empathetic leadership and management approach is crucial to boosting morale and reducing Stressiety.

  • Listen to what your team members are saying
  • Check in regularly with your direct reports
  • Ensure that your employees are having regular breaks
  • Encourage daily exercise or meditation
  • Set boundaries to ensure that everyone is logging off at the end of a working day
  • Encourage self-care and family time.

Yes our lives are currently on hold, but in the midst of a crisis, there is hope. There is an opportunity to spend precious time with our loved ones, look to the future, pause, reflect and reset.

If you or any of your employees need support with managing wellbeing and mental health please feel free to contact me at grace@urlifeurbusiness.com for further information

Take care and stay safe
Grace

Staying Calm & Connected During COVID-19

In a world where politics, religion and war has polarised nations, broken friendships and destroyed families, we now find ourselves united in our anxiety, fear and in some cases grief, as we face a global health crisis that cares not for our wealth, position in society or political persuasion, but has the potential to impact all of us.

As many of us are contemplating a life of quarantine and self-isolation; (and I find that I am selfishly teetering on the edge of bemoaning the impact that COVID-19 might have on my life), I am reminded that since 2011, over 4.8 million children have been born into war, and in 2019 the UN reported that 70.8 million people worldwide, have been displaced due to poverty, persecution and conflict – and I am humbled.

Which is why I am grateful for the fact that we have access to the information needed, (albeit piecemeal), to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe during this epidemic.  I am grateful for our amazing NHS and for the fact that I have good friends and family who are supporting each other through this turbulent period.

In times of crisis it can be difficult to maintain a sense of calm, however, never has it been so important to find strategies that help you to stay calm in the face of adversity.  It can be something as simple as:

  • A short meditation in the morning/evening (Smiling Mind is a non-profit meditation app) 
  • Creating a play list 
  • Keeping a journal/ gratitude list 
  • Starting a video diary 
  • Creating a bucket list of all things that you intend to do once the virus has been contained 
  • Don’t bottle it up, talk to a friend or a loved one about your anxieties and fears 
  • Remember that you cannot control everything

Whilst we are in the midst of this epidemic, loneliness and cabin fever are inevitable, I know that we will get through this and in the meantime, if I can’t go out and socialise as much as I would like to, I certainly intend to make the most of ‘social distancing’.  Here are a few ideas to help you to weather the storm:

  • Setup a virtual coffee/wine/craft beer date with friends 
  • join an online exercise streaming service 
  • Arrange a virtual after works drinks 
  • Check in with friends and family on a regular basis (facetime, zoom, skype) 
  • Declutter your home 
  • Update your CV 
  • Re-vamp your social media profiles 
  • Do all those jobs that you have been putting off 
  • Use this time to research your next career move 
  • Carry out research on turning your side-hustle into a full- time business 
  • Take up an online course 
  • Write that blog  
  • Start a virtual film/book club 
  • Sign up for Age UK’s telephone befriending service https://tinyurl.com/ycw28f9d

In the meantime, be kind, stay safe and healthy

Permission To Procrastinate

They say that Procrastination Is the thief of time, (Edward Young – it is also a sign of stress and anxiety.

Often when we procrastinate, we avoid doing the thing that we most dread by engaging in random activities.  For instance, when I had to write my business plan, I started watching Dog Whisperer.  Every day I would sit poised at my desk ready to plot world domination, only able to manage a couple of paragraphs.  The words were whirring around in my head but for some reason I was not able to commit these words to paper.

I would reason that my new fascination with the Dog Whisperer, was just the distraction I needed to get the creative juices flowing and alleviate my stress. I even managed to convince myself that binge watching episodes of the Dog Whisperer was an integral part of my self-care package.

This cycle of denial, continued for two weeks, whilst in the background, I was becoming agitated and fearful that I would never complete the task; something we in the business call catastrophising.  You know the drill; guilt, anxiety, self-flagellation, doubt, the ‘I can do this tomorrow’ conversation to OMG what is wrong with me, I am never going to be able to do this.

It’s worth noting that I DO NOT HAVE A DOG – which begs the question, what was I afraid of? 

l decided that it was time to channel my inner coach.  I asked myself, what’s the problem here, what am I avoiding, what am I telling myself, is this helpful behaviour, and more importantly is this defeatist self-talk based on fact?  The answer was a BIG FAT NO!

Once I realised that I had allowed procrastination to become my Kilimanjaro, I set about putting a plan in place.

  • I broke the task down into bite sized pieces and blocked out time in my diary to complete each section of the business plan  
  • I scheduled in ‘Planned Procrastination Sessions’ (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), this allowed me to indulge and embrace my penchant for the Dog Whisperer without guilt or recrimination.  
  • At the end of each day, I would reflect, acknowledge my progress and reinforce my target for the following day

These small steps helped me to gain traction, commit and complete my business plan.  I found the ‘Planned Procrastination’ helpful as I was giving myself permission to meander and distract myself from the task at hand in a controlled and measured way

The key to mastering procrastination is to own your behaviour.  You can either choose to procrastinate and accept the consequences of your inaction or commit, by creating a plan that enables you to meet your deadline/complete the task, with the added bonus of a little time for ‘Planned Procrastination’

BTW – I have taken ‘Planned Procrastination’ to a new level.  I have taken to perusing power tools in DIY shops!