7 simple ways to build your resilience and reduce your anxiety. This set was prepared to help especially in the time of an emergency.
#1 Name and Accept what you feel
Emergency means shock. We are all human. As humans, we react in various ways – and each of them is true.
Name what you feel – explicitely stating what you feel will help you find your starting point. Typical reactions to an emergency are • Anxiety • Depression • Hyperactivity • Anger • Guilt. Once you understand what you feel, you can start working with what you do about it.
In a moment of emergency, any emotion is correct. There are no wrong emotions in this situation, and everything you feel is all right. They are normal reactions in a normal person to an abnormal event.
Typical reactions to emergency
are A. Fight. B. Freeze. C. Flight.
What reaction do you recognize as yours?
A. Fight. Those who fight, become extra active. Boosting adrenaline makes them seem restless, they feel immune to fatigue. They are willing and able to act.
What’s great about Fight: especially in the first days after emergency, you might show others the way. Others might be looking up to you for inspiration and action.
What to watch out for: in the first days, you are so restless and involved in action that you might really forget to rest. Never forget to get enough sleep. If you sleep just 1 hour less for 5 nights in a row, your decision making process starts leveling down to that of a drunk person. After a few restless days, you might even start missing vocabulary because your brain simply did not get enough regeneration. After a week or two of such a fight mode, you simply physically run out of battery and become too exhausted to move on – quite an opposite of what your mind and heart would be craving for.
If you sleep just 1 hour less for 5 nights in a row, your decision making process starts leveling down to that of a drunk person.
B. Freeze. Those who freeze, feel unable to move on, take action or meet any decision. They become passive, “frozen”.
What’s great about Freeze: you save energy which might turn out very useful at a later stage when things become a bit more clear. Those who have just become exhausted of hyper-activity might benefit from your help then.
What to watch out for: don’t blame yourself. You just need a bit more time to make sense of what has been happening around. Freezing is a natural reaction to threat, and is widespread in nature.
C. Flight. Those who flight, want to get away from the situation.
#2 Check what you are able to control
A technique which might be useful to understand where to focus your energy is “Wheels of Control”.
Imagine an egg like this.
All that is pink here is what is out of your control. It is fair to say that you don’t control the future. You don’t know whether an earthquake will struck, how, or where. You don’t control what the media will write or say. You don’t control the rescue teams.
All that is white here is partially under your influence, e.g. you might have some influence on the people in your team. You might have partial influence on how you react as a business.
What really matters the most is the yellow part. This is what you can really control. You can control how much time a day you listen to media – and what media you choose (not) to follow. You can control whether you will make a phone call or not. You can control what you say to your kids. You can prepare an emergency pack, e.g. like this one recommended by the German Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (just get it translated with google). You can take care of your resilience to make your energy sustainable and useful in the longer run.
#3 Get enough (good) sleep
Stress might make it harder to sleep well. But we need to sleep well now – more than ever. You already know that sleeping just 1 hour less for 5 nights in a row, makes your decision making process level down to that of a drunk person. Find below a bunch of simple hints to improve your sleep.
- keep away from your mobile an hour before going to sleep. There are two reasons behind: (1) the news might make you even more stressed – and even falling asleep might become difficult in this moment. (2) your eyes keep the reflection of the blue light long after you fall asleep, and don’t let you reach the deep sleep phase. We all need this phase to rest – this is when the brain actually regenerates.
- cover the windows so that you can sleep in darkness – this will help you easier reach the deep sleep which we all need to regenerate.
- when you wake up, just open the curtains. Let natural light be the first light that reaches your eyes. This helps to regulate the daily rhythm.
#4 Keep small routines
Our brains are control freaks. They mostly feel safe when the environment is predictable and repeatable. We want to foresee the future – but due to a negative bias, our brains make us expect more negative than positive coming up. In normal circumstances, this is a healthy mechanism that helps us to prepare. In a situation of emergency, the shattered normality kills the feeling of safety in our brains – and we become freaked out, unable to think or act reasonably.
Help your brain and bring a bit of routine into your life.
Help your brain and bring a bit of routine into your life. You might want to keep some small morning routines which you always followed before. Coming to work is also a routine, something that gives structure to your day. Giving someone a call or walking back from the office might be another routine you could take on. You know better!
#5 Start fasting on media
The role of media is to share news, but perhaps even more importantly – attract your attention. Have you noticed that most of what you read, listen, or watch has been repeating many times now? By sucking news from the media, we again want to imagine that we can control the future – or at the least the present moment. Check your Egg of control and understand that the only thing you can actually control is the way you consume media. Make a deal with yourself: how many times a day do you actually think it makes sense to check news? Perhaps 3 times a day are enough, perhaps just once? What source of information do you decide to choose? It might be a news channel, but it might also be another person you trust for a good reason.
#6 Write the stress out of you
Emergency is what we could not be ready for. It is fair to admit that we are clueless about the situation now, about what we need to do, even about what or how we need to think now.
Writing own thoughts down has been proven to be one of the best ways to regulate yourself
Writing own thoughts down has been proven to be one of the best ways to regulate yourself, and bring some order into your emotions and thoughts. You can type, or even physically just write with pen on paper. Let yourself write down everything that currently buzzes in your mind, let it off and let it be written. Spontaneous writing, stream of conscience, train of thoughts – whatever you call it, just let yourself note your thoughts down. 5 minutes a day is a good start.
#7 Keep moving
Inviting your body to move has been proven to physically decrease the level of stress hormones in your body, and psychologically increase your wellbeing. What physical activity is possible for you now? Perhaps you can walk home? Perhaps you can use your stationary bicycle? Perhaps you can bring kids home on foot? Research shows that physical activity even helps to increase optimism!
Everyone is different, so it is very probable that some of these tips might be more approachable to you than others. In any case, don’t let yourself ruin your energy now! Keep your resilience, and apply any tip that might help. Which of them actually makes the most sense to you?
At ETTA, we believe that resilience is a treasure to be managed. We support the development of human centric leaders in a virtual and international environment. ETTA means experts in business psychology, inclusive leadership, cross-cultural communication, and virtual teams. We work remotely for groups from all over the world, conducting trainings, workshops and webinars in English, Polish, German, and French. With ETTA, you can do more with what you have, plus work on the competences of the future. Please feel welcome to get in touch 👍😊