Updated: Nov 18, 2020
How to Stay Focused in Times of Stress (Like During the Pandemic)
By Dax Kimbrough
On a normal day, stress is always around us; consuming a portion of our mindshare, controlling our biological responses, and inhibiting our productivity. And on a normal day, our half-hearted attempts to battle stress usually work. A phone call with a friend, a little television, or maybe a cold martini might be sufficient enough to stem the stresses of everyday life.
Now, during the pandemic, we will have to truly practice self-care to battle the crashing waves of stress. The humanitarian and economic crises before the world are daunting, and frankly, too big for one single human to comprehend. Our livelihoods are in question, the relationships with our co-workers, friends and families will be tested, and it behooves all of us to stay focused in this time of crisis.
Here are some of my methods I use to stay focused and productive in a time of crises.
Movement. As Americans, we usually do not get enough movement during more peaceful times. However, even if you are not an athlete or workout junkie, a little movement will help clear your mind and provide space for focused attention. My goal (at the very least) is to walk 20 minutes twice per day. It doesn't sound like much, but at the end of a work week I clock 200 minutes or over 3 hours of walking per week. It helps a lot.
Meditation. Mediation counterbalances the adverse effects of the crisis; it improves sleep, decreases blood pressure, controls anxiety, improves mental health, and it can be done anywhere at anytime. You do not need to be some yogi sitting on your magic carpet, take 5 minutes to breathe quietly with no other distractions. Solutions to problems could just come your way. Meditation can be hard, even for me, but I turn on my iPhone timer and sit quietly for 10min. My mind races, but I learned a good tip long ago. Treat your mind like a rambunctious puppy your trying to sit in one spot. When the puppy bounces off (or your mind in this case) gently put the puppy back in its original spot.
Mobilize. Act! Now that shock of it all has worn off, act! Take small risks and move outside your comfort zone and look for ways to shore up your business or personal matters. I do this by reaching out to old friends, old business contacts that I have not spoken with in a while - this effort to rekindle relationships has proved fruitful in my business, and I believe it can do the same for you.
Focus is a practice and we all lose it from time to time. Hopefully some of my self-care tips might help you in this time.