The stress you’re dealing with is normal. One of the factors that causes the biggest threat to our brain is uncertainty. Knowing this, it’s normal to feel stressed. So here’s some recommendations for things to do to help you deal with this particularly over the next 7 days, or if you have some extra time on your hands for learning. Help yourself learn to be more resilient in the face of challenging times.
If you prefer to read instead of the watch the video, here’s the transcript.
If you had told me 7 days ago that this week 90% of our business would be coaching senior executives to deal with stressed out people or providing online programs to help stressed out people to deal with the challenges of a pandemic, I’d have thought you were nuts!
It just seems so unlikely that in the 7 fastest days of my life that things could change so dramatically, and as the media seems to revel in giving us so much negative news, it’s really hard to stop your mind ruminating, thinking:
- What if my family or friends get the virus?
- What if I get the virus?
- How will we cope if we go into full lockdown?
- How is the world ever going to recover?
- How’s my job going to be etc.?
And you’ll find your mind running on. What you need to do is know that that’s actually a normal reaction. It’s a normal reaction to the stress of the times we’re going through right now.
There’s a researcher called David Rock who did 20 years of meta-research on the factors that turn on or turn off the brain. The “turn on a threat response” or “turn on a reward response”. And one of the factors that causes the biggest threat to our brains is uncertainty.
As he puts it, “our brains are certainty-seeking machines.”
We hate any ambiguity or uncertainty and God knows we’re living through a time of uncertainty. Knowing that, you can comfort yourself that it is absolutely normal that you feel really stressed right now. That’s how your body has evolved to warn you of a threat. So if you’re feeling stressed, welcome to humanity! Everybody else is feeling it right now. It’s normal!
So don’t try to resist it! Don’t try to push it away!
Just accept it as normal and try to avoid becoming stressed about the fact you’re stressed because frequently people become more strung out worrying about the impact stress is gonna have upon them than they do from the stress itself.
I’m asked often:
- What sorts of things should I do if I’ve got some time on my hands?
- Or what should I be doing during this period even if I don’t have time on my hands?
And there’s a couple of recommendations that I made for people.
Experience or continue meditation practices
This is a great time to start if you haven’t already started. If you already have a mindfulness practice, then I don’t have to sell you on just how useful it is on helping you to build acceptance of difficult times like this and to build a calmness of mind that makes it harder to stress you out. If you haven’t developed a mindfulness meditation practice and you’ve considered it or even if you haven’t considered it, this is a time to give it a go.
I’m not gonna sell you on the deep impacts of it. What I’ll tell you is, at a very minimum if you commit to it over the next several days you’ll find that it starts to give you a little greater peace of mind, a little calmness and starts to take some of the jitteriness out of the nerves that are probably be-settling you right now .
So how do you start?
It’s the biggest meditation app on the planet. There’s something like 5 million meditations conducted using the app every day of the week.
You can download it for free and if you search for my name which is spelled “D E I R I C” or Genos “G E N O S” you’ll find a selection of 9 or 10 of our best practices that you can access from anywhere you have a smartphone or an iPad or anything like that.
What I recommend if you’re starting, is start with the basic “Attention Practice” and make a commitment to yourself:
I’m going to invest 15 minutes a day in myself in trying out this “Attention Practice” over the next 10 days. And then find a slot during the day when you can do it. There’s an old saying that says:
When I’m too busy: On a normal day I meditate for 30 minutes. On a day when I’m too busy to meditate, I meditate for 45 minutes.
You may feel right now the sense of “busyness”, that sense that you really should be doing something else, that’s the time when you really need to settle. So try the basic “Attention Practice” daily over the next 10 days and as you start to feel it have an impact commit to making a longer term part of your daily ritual.
Use the ‘Basic Attention’ Practice
There are several other practices in there. I suggest while you’ve got the “Basic Attention” practice running in the background that you try some of them.
Try The Body Scan
Experiment with some of them, some of them are very very short , as short as a minute, some of them are 15, 20 minutes and there’s one in there “The Body Scan” which is a really wonderful thing for switching off your mind if you’re challenged by nerves into a sleepless state in this current time.
So download that app, it costs absolutely nothing.
The other thing that I find really useful during challenging times and God knows these are challenging times is to get things down on paper.
As soon as I start writing everything clears, the voices in my head start to settle down a little bit, and a pinball of ideas that are bouncing around there seems to slow down and I get greater clarity.
The “Genos Journaling App” is another free app and in there you’ll find a very simple way that you can journal on things like gratitude and vision and in as little as 2 or 3 minutes a day start to get some interesting perspectives on what’s going on right now.
The app walks you through the process so I’m not gonna tell you how to do it. What I will say to you is, first, there’s an enormous amount of research that says gratitude is a wonderful way of dealing with anxiety, depression, promoting happiness and promoting clarity. And the app will help you to work your way through that, through starting to journal for a minute or two each day on gratitude.
Try Gratitude Practices
And if you wanna get the gratitude thing kicked off really fast, here’s a 10 minute practice called “The Gratitude Kick start”.
And what I’d say is sit down, put on the recording, follow the instructions and just watch how it brings to mind all of those things that this current crisis may have driven out of your mind- that are blessings for you. The people that you love and the things that are actually going well for you right now. So work on the gratitude using the app.
The second thing to recognize is there will be a post Coronavirus world. We will come out of this and life will go on. The question is:
- How do you want it to go on for you?
Whether you’ve time now or not and ideally if you do have time now on your hands, this is a great time to be reflecting on:
- Where do you want to go in the future?
- What’s you’re ideal vision for the future?
And the app will help you to work that out. All of the instructions are in there. This is a great time to reflect on:
- How do I want my life to go post Coronavirus?
What else? The final thing that I’d like to share with you is in a time when we’re talking about “social distancing”, we need to be connected with people more than ever.
Now for many of us, it’s practical for us to get together with our loved ones, keep that two meter social distance and be able to commune with them at least to get that little shot of oxytocin that makes us feel a little bit connected.
For some of us in risk groups that’s just not possible, and what I’d recommend is recognise that we have more connection options than we’ve ever had before, courtesy of technology. So applications like the one I’m using here to record the Zoom or Skype or FaceTime allow us to reach out and connect with people.
And of course, if you don’t have access to that technology, there’s good plain old telephone service that’s there. Reach out to people!
Stress like we’re going through right now during this period can often make us want to become hermits and pull away from people, at exactly the time when we need to be reaching out to them.
Loving Kindness/Compassion Practice
Now in the event for whatever reason that you’re isolated either physically or geographically or you’re just cut off from people, well then let me recommend one final thing and by the way I recommend this whether you’re cut off from people or not and that is a practice that I call “The Compassion and Connection Practice” and here’s a link to it.
This what the Buddhists often call “Loving Kindness Practice” and its designed to promote a sense of connection with the people we care for , with people we love and everybody else who are going through this experience right now. It’s a simple practice, all you have to do is click on it, give yourself some quiet time in a room, play the recording and just work through the practice and it’ll kick start that sense of connection to people.
So bottom line is, there will be a post-Corona world, use the time that you have right now wisely as you can and if there’s any way whatever we can be of help reach out to us.
So that’s my two cents. I hope it’s been helpful. Please do let me know what works for you.