For Women, By Women
Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness
1st for Women Insurance recently spoke to Lori Milner, TedX speaker, coach, author, trainer and self-leadership expert. Lori shares advice and guidance for women on navigating their way through this unprecedented time. She starts with looking at how the equation of anxiety works and what we can do to overcome it during lockdown and beyond.
This equation comes from Chip Conley’s insightful book ‘Emotional Equations’. Chip believes that the product of what you don’t know (uncertainty) and what you can’t control (powerlessness) creates the emotional condition of anxiety, which is greater than the sum of its parts.
During this time, anxiety is at its highest as there are many unknowns at this stage. However despite the uncertainty, you need to ask yourself – what can I control? What do I have power over right now and let go of the things you can’t control to take back your power in whatever form possible.
When you focus on the uncertainty, it leaves you feeling helpless. I want to share some thoughts on what you can focus on right now that is within your control:
Strengthen your immune system
Your focus needs to be keeping your body as healthy as possible to boost your immune system.
Nutrition – ensure you are consciously choosing healthy food and snacks to get the right nutrients and not reaching for high sugar snacks as a comfort. Most of us turn to sugar for a feel good boost but in these times – your body needs nourishment so choose wisely.
Sleep – ensure you get at least 7.5 to 8 hours per night. According to sleep expert, Matthew Walker, ‘Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day—Mother Nature’s best effort yet’. Replace binge watching Netflix til all hours as an escape from our reality with something more positive like reading. Alternatively, have your fix of TV but work backwards to ensure you are in bed at the right time to ensure a good 8 hours rest. Your body needs it now more than ever.
Vitamins – if possible, look for additional immune boosters and probiotics to keep your gut healthy. Healthy gut = healthy mind and body.
Maintain/institute a morning routine
Whether you are in the office or working from home, it is imperative that you keep your existing morning routine or institute a new one. This provides you with structure and focus to your day and ensures you are taking self-care seriously. Schedule an hour every morning – preferably before the kids and family are awake to take charge of your day. This can include some exercise, journaling, meditation, studying, reading – you decide what matters most to you. This time isn’t going to magically appear in the day – you need to schedule it and honour it. This sets the tone for the entire day because it puts you into a peak state and you can now operate from this state for the rest of the day. Choose to start your day with the ingredients you need to perform at your best despite the external world. When you take an hour and start with your internal world, you have already won the day. If one hour feels unrealistic, than start with as little as 15 minutes.
Manage your mind-set
This is so important during this time. You can choose where your attention goes and ultimately how you will feel as a result of it. So do you want to refresh your feeds and check your WhatsApp messages every 5 minutes which will leave you feeling anxious, drained and scared? Decide when and how often you will check in so you take your power back. If you constantly react to everyone else’s panic, you will end up in overwhelm and probably not achieve much that day.
Don’t focus on fear and lack. We are all concerned and share the same fears but you can choose not to focus on this all day. When your mind starts to wonder and those negative ‘What if’ thoughts appear – choose to focus on gratitude. Take a minute and just say out loud or write down I am grateful for my health or something in your life you truly appreciate. Choose to focus on what you do have, not what you are scared you may lose.
Create a success list
You can choose where to spend your time and attention. Each morning, write down 3 major tasks you want to accomplish that day. Schedule it into your calendar and commit to only doing that task for the allocated time. This is important because you need to maintain progress on your goals to give you a sense of accomplishment and power despite what it going on. If you spend your time checking the news every 10 minutes, not only will you achieve very little but you will feel a huge sense of disappointment in yourself. Progress is your secret weapon to generate your mental and emotional bandwidth.
Manage your stress
This is critical. If you don’t already, bring in a practice like meditation into your daily routine. You can use Apps like Headspace to get started. Firstly, meditation brings in deep breathing which neutralizes the adrenaline in your body in addition to many other health benefits. When you have a regular meditation practice, it enables you to take control over where you attention goes. Mediation is not about ‘not having thought’s’. It is about focusing on your breath and noticing when your attention wonders. Then gently say ‘thinking’ and bring your awareness back to your breath. This is so powerful because you start to become aware of your thoughts and redirect the mind to something more positive throughout the day. You will start to become less emotionally reactive to the people and situations that normally get you worked up.
We are in challenging times but the more you feel you have a sense of control despite the external, the more you will give yourself courage and strength to work through the things you have no control over. Ultimately, you always have the choice to decide how you will respond to the situations that life presents to you.
I wish you strength and courage during this time,