2020, was, to say the least, unexpected and unprecedented. The pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout sent business owners scrambling to redeploy, redefine, and rebuild their enterprises. Win or lose it was a year of accumulated fatigue, stress, fear, discouragement, lost income, and family concerns.
We opened 2021 anticipating better things. Gratefully, businesses have regained their footing and the vaccines will save lives and restore our liberties. But we carry with us the accumulated emotional strain resulting from our shoulder-to-shoulder fight for survival and prosperity. There is no vaccine that can eliminate the effects of the frustration, fear, and deep concerns we all experienced. Some have greater tolerance for stress than others; but we all feel the added weight of those challenges.
It’s not healthy to retain fear, tension, and aggravations of the year. It’s time to make a concerted effort to reset and re-energize both individually and as companies. Individually, we must assess the strain and take affirmative steps to re-energize and refocus. I have found in my own journey and have encouraged our Insperity employees to apply a six-step process to release the stress of the past and transition emotionally to a brighter future. The six steps to resetting and reenergizing emotionally are:
- Take your temperature,
- Take a breath,
- Take a break,
- Reset your priorities,
- Reset your attitude, and
- Reset your goals.
In this post (part one), I will explain the first three.
Take Your Temperature
What do I mean when I say, “Take your temperature”? In 2020, we were consumed by the fast, furious, and intense pace required for survival not realizing the personal and family toll it took on us. It is now time to pause and assess our emotional well-being. Taking your temperature means taking some time to reflect honestly on how you are feeling. Do you see signs of stress? For example, has your temper been shorter than usual? Is it hard to get out of bed in the morning? Do you feel overwhelmed by the routine demands of home and work life? How long has it been since you disconnected and took some time for yourself?
If you are like me, a person who thrives on difficult challenges, you may ignore the impact. But take some time to assess your emotional wellbeing, you may be surprised. Believe me, your family and others will thank you if you will honestly assess and acknowledge your emotional state.
Take a Breath
The next step in the process is to just take a breath. Stop for a moment. Put the rat race on hold long enough to breathe deeply. 2020 was like living in a TV reality competition running through obstacles facing peril at every turn. I became aware of this in a conversation with my family. They were getting all excited about this issue or that issue. I said to them, “Hey everybody, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we all just calm down, relax for a minute?”
We need to step out of the cycle of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, and worry. In fact, studies have shown that 96% of what we worry about never happens, yet we worry anyway. It’s a total waste of time and emotional energy and is not good for our health.
Find a quiet place. Put out of your mind all the things you “should” be doing at that moment and actively calm yourself down. Relax a little and just breathe – slowly and deeply – for a few minutes. If you schedule some time to do this every day, it will help you avoid an unhealthy pace.
By the way, I have found that thankfulness is the antidote for worry. I started thinking about all the things that I am thankful for and I felt better! A smile returned to my face. This is a great tool to use right now. A sincere expression of thanks given to those around you is good for their emotional wellbeing too.
Take a Break.
Whatever is facing you right now, the stressful things that happen in succession, make you anticipate the other shoe dropping. Every news cycle reminds us of the terrible, the hopeless, the drama of the day. A steady diet of tragic information shifts us toward a negative outlook and away from hope and happiness. These can raise your anxiety to near incapacitating levels. Suddenly, you are only able to see what’s right in front of you.
We must escape that cycle – we must take a break. Is the pandemic over? No, but it will be soon. Don’t forget to look up and out into the future. Take a break from your stressors if you can, just unplug for a while. Have you noticed that when you detach you feel so much better? You can choose not to engage in many things that feed unnecessary stress.
Take a break and do something that builds, enlightens, and uplifts you. Read a book. Take walks outdoors. Do something you love to do but have neglected during the crush of 2020. Do something affirmative for yourself and build it into your daily schedule. If you do, you will find your capacities will expand, and your outlook and relationships will be refreshed.
In my next post, I will cover the second half of my roadmap to an emotional reset which focuses on resetting priorities, attitudes, and goals.