Central Research Laboratory
Going through uncertainty and change is a normal part of life that can induce stress and anxiety for many people. But no-one would have imagined that we would be experiencing this new lifestyle as people across the world come together (and stay apart) to tackle Covid-19.
Resilience and stress management are an important feature in our CRL Accelerator programmes to ensure we equip founders to deal with the intensity and challenge of the programme – stepping out of their comfort zones, learning new skills, making tough decisions and undergoing an overwhelming workload over the 6-month programme.
In these extreme conditions, we are all trying to navigate the pressures of work, balancing home life and managing financial strains. These skills are needed now more than ever. We are continuing to support our members through online workshops and wanted to share some of the simple, quick and PRACTICAL things we’ve learned that can help anyone feel in-control, manage stress and keep spirits high…
- GRATITUDE JOURNAL
ACTIVITY: Each night, write down 3 things that from that day, that you were grateful for. These can be ANYTHING. The fact you found a 4pk loo roll! Or that you have a garden. You found your favourite pen….?
Like me, you may think this sounds like a childish task, but, give it a go. This intervention shifts your mind to focus on positive things and will make you feel almost instantly better in that moment. This can be especially good before bed, to help you drift off avoid those nightmares!
- CONTROLLED, SLOW BREATHING
ACTIVITY: Take a seat and get comfortable. Find a focal point or shut your eyes. For five seconds take a slow deep breath in through your nose, filling your belly with air. Remain focused on the object (or the darkness behind your eyelids) and then slowly breath out for five seconds through your mouth. Repeat five times.
We often think of physical and mental health as separate things, despite their intrinsic relationship. A common physical symptom of stress is shortness of breath or a tight chest. Taking control of your breathing can therefore have a reverse effect, helping to calm your mind.
- CHOCOLATE MEDITATION (this is a fun one and broke a few giggles when we tried it with our group)
ACTIVITY: Get a piece of your favourite chocolate or a treat. Hold it in your hands and look at it. Spend a few minutes examining all it’s details – texture, size, how it looks. What are your thoughts on it – Is there anything that looks odd or unexpected or that you like as you view it in this way…
Now give it a sniff for a minute. Is that what you expected, can you imagine and feel the taste of it?
Put it in your mouth – but don’t eat it! Hold it there for a minute and try not to bite, suck or play with it. How does it feel, is it melting, soggy, how does it taste, what are your thoughts?
If you made it this far – well done – you deserve to get yourself another piece! Enjoy!
This exercise gets you concentrating on the here and now. Being ‘in-the-moment’ removes focus from what just p**d you off or that meeting you’ve got coming up so you can try and reset your state of mind.
- SLEEP BETTER
This is a big one. Sleep can have a massive impact on how we concentrate, how we feel and how we react or cope in everyday situations. If you are having trouble sleeping here are a number of things you can try (individually or in a staged process) to improve your kip:
- Start a regular routine (or even better, a schedule) for going to sleep. Waking up at a regular time each day and sticking to this schedule over the weekend can also help.
- Reduce caffeine intake and strictly have none 2 hours before you plan on going to bed. Switching to decaf can also help reduce the physical symptoms of stress – like racing heart palpitations and a tight chest.
- Prevent yourself from using technology; scrolling through social media, watching Eastenders or reading a thriller 30 minutes before you go to bed. These stimulating activities can keep your mind pacing and alert.
- Replace or re-purpose using your phone in bed for listening to calming sounds or guided meditations.
- After tossing and turning for over 30 minutes, get up, make your bed, walk about, and try again. But don’t check the time!
- Keep a notebook by your bed (of course you would have your Gratitude diary there anyway) so if you find your mind buzzing with thoughts, or you wake up in the night with an genius idea, getting it onto the page will help get it out of your head without forgetting it in the morning.
I am proud to share that at Plus X, we offer all our members world class support for their personal mental health and resilience around business challenges.
Stay well and keep in touch!