Making mental shifts during mentally difficult times

To say that we are living in a mentally taxing time is probably an understatement.

In addition to worrying about our own health, we worry about the health of family, friends and neighbours; about our jobs or keeping our businesses afloat; about paying the bills; about balancing working from home while simultaneously caring for our children or aging parents.

If you’re like most of us, by the end of every day your brain feels like someone put it in a kitchen mixer and left it on blend for eight hours. You’re left feeling tired, unfocused, stressed, anxious, and unproductive. (And you could no doubt add several more adjectives to this list!)

In order to be our best selves, we need to BE our best selves. This means taking care of the engine that runs the whole machine: your brain. Small, deliberate changes in how we perceive and cope with stressful situations are key to embracing change and inducing more feelings of control, positivity, and well-being.

Here are our six tips to help you shift towards a more positive mindset and get yourself on a well-balanced mental and physical diet:

1. Determine what’s important

Ask yourself: “Is it crucial that I do this task today?” Or, “What is the most important thing I need to do today to move my business/organization forward?” Alternatively, choose tasks that appeal to you; small wins can produce the feel-good dopamine rush you need to activate confidence for tackling more or bigger tasks. Another trick: instead of saying, “I just don’t have enough time” try “I have enough time to do everything I need to today.” This small mindset shift lets you control the time rather than giving time the power to manage you.

2. Stick to a routine

This can be easier said than done when there are children in the house, but even they, who are used to a school routine, would benefit from structured days. In times of uncertainty, establishing routine helps cultivate an environment of certainty.

3. Take a break from social media

Take a break from your social media feed and the relentless news flow. If search and scroll you must, try to focus on the stories about the helpers, not the negative ones that will ignite your anxiety or make you feel inefficient, inadequate, or powerless.

4. Make time to relax

Make time throughout the day to retreat, restore, and revive. This could involve participating a short online yoga class, reading, watching an episode of your favourite sitcom on Netflix, taking a walk, or video chatting with a friend or family member.

5. Reach out

When aloneness starts to feel like loneliness, don’t get hung up on reaching out for support. It is not a sign of weakness, no matter what your pride is telling you. You also shouldn’t feel embarrassed, since the person you reach out to may very well feel flattered that you chose their wisdom over all your other connections. If you’re stuck on a business problem, set up a solutions brainstorming session with family, friends or colleagues. For a more formal support process, find a business mentor or life coach; it’s super easy to set up meetings via videoconference. If your spiritual self is feeling a little drained, set up regular videoconference meetings with your spiritual community to feed your soul.

6. Make lemonade

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. While you can’t necessarily control everything that happens around you, you are in control of how you choose to experience it and could do so more productively by learning how to hone your resiliency skills. For example, find healthy ways to embrace change; don’t dwell on negative thinking; create reasonable goals; figure out what actions you can take to mitigate a challenge; and, last but not least, remember to take care of both mind and body. There are tons of online resources and learning; just Google ‘resiliency’.

Focusing on ourselves can sometimes feel awkward or selfish, but in the end it equates to the oxygen mask instructions you receive on every flight: before you can help others, you have to be properly equipped to do so. By taking the time to ensure that we’re mentally healthy and present, we’ll be that much better equipped to take on whatever the day brings.

Tips from our staff:

  • Read uplifting, positive quotes before starting your day.
  • Get up out of your seat (and out of the house if you can) to do a few, simple yoga stretches every hour or so or go for a brisk walk.
  • Check up on colleagues, friends and family – even cranky old Uncle Herb; he just might need it the most!
  • Take breaks. Feel things. It’s okay to be sad and overwhelmed. Figure out what you need to do when that happens: who is your lifeline phone call? Or do you need to go outside and check the mailbox or simply feel the sun and wind on your face?
  • Discuss your fears with family members to make sure you’re on the same page about what to do should someone fall ill.
  • For peace of mind, make a list of all the things you can control and revisit it when you start to feel overwhelmed.