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How to manage stress and anxiety and avoid putting our bodies in fight or flight mode

3 Apr 2020

 

Cara de Lange, founder and CEO of Softer Success, explains how to combat stress while living in this heightened time of stress and anxiety. 

Imagine this. The minute you turn on the lights in your empty flat, your coat rack looked like it was a person standing right next to you.

This scenario can trigger your body’s natural fight or flight response, which is driven from your sympathetic nervous system. This response is your body’s reaction to danger and was designed to help you survive life threatening situations.

This stress response is triggered by a release of hormones prompting us to either stay and fight or run.

Nature designed this response to be over quite quickly, however in the 21st century many people are stuck in the fight or flight scenario for months, even years on end.

And often people are not aware they are in this scenario of ‘chronic stress’.

For many, the Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge, and one that can lead to even higher levels of stress.

We have now been given the chance to physically slow down by staying at home, so this is the perfect chance to actually take stock and start to notice our where are feelings of stress and anxiety sit in our body.

It’s time to tune in and start using our emotional intelligence.

When we use our emotional intelligence, we can take a step back and de-escalate anxiety.  We can adopt measures to reduce stress and prevent burnout. For example, we can reach out for extra help in good time or learn to set boundaries and say ‘no’.

By developing our emotional intelligence, we will not only help prevent burnout and reduce stress but we will also prepare ourselves for the future.

A Deloitte study in January 2020 noted that presenteeism (working when unwell and being unproductive) and leavism (working when on leave) are on the rise.

Often people are reluctant to set boundaries and to say no as they don’t want to look as if they can’t cope, they don’t have a good relationship with their manager, or they are afraid for their job security.

Being surrounded by conflict, being a victim of conflict can place enormous emotional pressure on us which can lead to further conflict until it becomes a vicious circle.

Now is the time for us to look after ourselves and our employees more than ever before.

It is also time for leaders to step up and lead by example.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Put your own oxygen mask on first. In order to step out of fight or flight mode its vital you start taking care of yourself. What is it that you need right now?
  • Notice where the stress builds up in your body and then do a form of relaxation to help lessen it, like deep breathing, meditation or exercise.
  • Get better sleep. Make sure you turn off all work-related technology two hours before sleep.
  • Look at the positives, not the negatives. In times of crisis people tend to feed on negative news. Stay away from sensation media and write out three things you are grateful for every day.

With the world changing at an increasingly fast pace due to Covid-19, the job landscape is predicted to change as well. This in itself will cause anxiety and stress so now is the time to develop and implement measures to prevent stress and burnout.

Source: City Matters

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