Using EQ to cope with stress during COVID-19 will help you manage your anxiety and worries. Since mid-March 2020, news about the coronavirus has been coming on like gangbusters. It has caused a lot of anguish and psychological distress in our daily lives, and our “life as usual” has come to a complete halt. The pandemic has resulted in desolate and profound changes for which we had no time to prepare, while also denying us the comfort of friends and family to get through it.
It has been challenging to stay calm and hopeful about the future when all we hear on the news is the number of deaths, temporary layoffs and lost jobs, and companies going out of business.
Disruption in our Lives
COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives, and it has been hard enough to deal with our normal daily work pressures and deadlines, not to mention the added global pandemic stress. We now need to constantly wash our hands after touching surfaces, practice social distancing, create new office spaces in our homes and work remotely, all while homeschooling our kids.
On top of all that, until recently, many of the services and support needed to maintain our physical and mental health have been closed like gyms, fitness centres, dentists, and our other healthcare providers (such as physiotherapists and chiropractors).
Our only silver lining was that we had the technology to try to stay remotely connected to some of these support systems with virtual workouts and medical video conference calls. But let’s face it – it’s not the same as in-person sessions and appointments. During the peak of the pandemic, our homes have turned into a home office, a gym, a playground, and a school.
Not only has the coronavirus impacted our mental health, but it has also pulverized the economy, which significantly affects our financial wealth. There is much more uncertainty due to financial worries and temporary or permanent job loss. And studies show that anxiety and depression go up during any recession, and economic misfortune is associated with higher suicide rates.
Due to all of these factors and the uncertainty around COVID-19, it is entirely natural to feel jolted, anxious and worried. You are not alone.
Using EQ to Cope with Stress During COVID-19
However, the break in the clouds is there are strategies to help cope with stress during COVID-19, and emotional intelligence practices you can put into play to help you manage those worries.
Focus on Your Feelings
The first step in managing your stress is identifying how you feel. Are you taking time throughout the day to check-in and put a name to your emotional state? Start to become aware of how your body deals with stress.
Do you clench your jaw? Do you regularly tap your feet? Do you get a migraine? It’s essential to check in with your emotions and body sensations. If you are noticing your body is negatively reacting to the stressors, seek help from a healthcare provider such as a massage therapist or psychologist.
Allow yourself the time to notice and express what you are feeling through journaling, talking with friends, or channelling your emotions into something creative like drawing, music, or poetry.
Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your day. Being more mindful can help you stay grounded amidst this emotional storm. Learning to be an observer of and witness to your thoughts and feelings takes the emotional charge out of the situation and allows your emotions to come and go in their own time without you getting overwhelmed by them.
Practice Self Care
It’s typical for people facing stress or mental health issues to stop doing the things that help keep them healthy, like being active, meditation or other forms of self-care. Maintain your day-to-day routines as much as possible. Go back to the basics – eat healthy, exercise, sleep well, and do the things that you enjoy.
For many of us, it’s natural for us to think of all of the usual activities we used to be able to do but now can’t. Make a conscious effort to shift your focus on activities you are still able to do. Try reading a novel, listening to a podcast or music, taking a bubble bath, cuddling your pets, playing a board game, trying a new hobby or skill like playing an instrument, cooking an original recipe, learning a language, or gardening.
Set healthy boundaries to manage the constant stream of COVID-19 information and the news and social media. It’s understandable to want to keep informed and prepared. At the same time, constantly reading, watching, or listening to upsetting media coverage can unnecessarily intensify worry and agitation.
When you get the urge to check updates, see if you can pause, notice the temptation, delay acting on the call, and let it pass without judgement. Schedule a specific time to check in with the news instead. It’s also okay to take breaks from conversations with others about the coronavirus and suggest discussing other topics. Also, try to disconnect all of your electronic devices for some quiet time.
Social distancing is essential as it helps control the spread of the virus. But, at the same time, it can also create feelings of isolation, loneliness, and sometimes even depression. Remember that physical distancing does not need to mean social disconnection.
It is essential to make time to socialize and create community connections, even if you can’t be face to face. Make sure you are connecting with your colleagues, supportive friends and loved ones, and reaching out when you need help or support. Connecting with others by calling, texting, or video chatting can bring a sense of comfort and stability to your lives. By talking through your concerns, thoughts, and feelings can also be helpful to think about ways of dealing with your current stressful situation.
Showing care towards friends, family, or vulnerable people in our community can be critical during this time. It can foster a sense of hope, purpose, and meaning. As well, science offers a simple and effective way to bolster our emotional health is to start by helping others.
Send someone you care about a message of encouragement or affirmation. Cook, pack and deliver a meal to someone in your neighbourhood, or donate to a cause.
Emotional Intelligence Can Help
Remember that everyone is coping with uncertainty about the future; some worry about their ageing parents’ health or what their children’s education will look like moving forwards. Many are managing significant disruptions in their work and personal life.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching implications continue to unfold, you will continue to have a wide range of thoughts, feelings and reactions, including sadness, frustration, worry, fear, overwhelm, restlessness, disconnection, loneliness, discontent, helplessness, etc. Emotional intelligence can help you learn ways to manage your emotions. Using EQ to cope with stress during COVID-19 is the answer.
Interested in More?
If you want more tips and techniques to stay emotionally solid, check out one of our 4-hour Leadership Development Workshops – Stress Management Strategies or Improving Emotional Resilience or one of our brand new Special Packages – Package A – Reconnect and Revive, Package B – Assess and De-Stress or Package C – Up-skill and Uplift.