When a crisis hits, our bodies automatically go into fight, flight or freeze mode. Which is great if you're being chased by a hungry lion but it's not overly helpful right now - even if it is a totally normal and understandable response to our current situation.
As we navigate the fear and uncertainty in today's rapidly changing and unpredictable environment we have a phenomenally powerful resource at our disposal... our mind. Why? Because our thoughts have a direct impact on how we feel, what we say, the way we act and the decisions we make.
Self-care activities like journaling, mindfulness and gratitude are the foundation to getting our heads right and be in the best position to cope and respond proactively in a crisis.
But, if you’re anything like me, you will also be thinking there is no way on earth I can fit that into my day when I've already got so much going on and so many fires to fight.
The good news is even with limited time there are self-care and mindset activities which can make a huge difference to getting your head in the right space. So in under 5 minutes a day here are a few strategies that have worked for me:
If you've got negative thoughts playing on repeat, getting them down on paper will help free up headspace and release some of the worry.
I struggled with the idea of having to write pages and pages, so instead I started by committing to write down at least one word to sum up my day. Most days I can get at least a sentence down, and when things are feeling really pressured I find I just keep going until I've run out of time or stuff to write.
Being able to dump all my thoughts on paper not only releases emotions, being able to reflect on it later helps me identify issues and figure out next steps.
Focusing on things you appreciate or be thankful for helps to keep life in perspective. It's also scientifically proven to positively impact both your mental and physical health. So think of gratitude as preventative medicine.
I try to incorporate gratitude into activities I already do every day… as I turn off my alarm in the morning, I try to remember to say ‘thank you’. Washing my hair, writing in my journal, and getting into bed at night are prompts for me to think, write or voice out loud at least one thing I appreciate or am grateful for.
Double bonus - if you express gratitude or appreciation to another person, both of you experience the mental and physical health benefits. And you've taken a moment to focus on someone else which helps counteract feelings of overwhem and isolation.
Another great way to calm those looping thoughts is through mindfulness. There are loads of mindfulness apps such as Headspace, Calm & Smiling Mind which offer short meditations which you can do anywhere... the car, the bathroom, at your desk, or out for a walk.
My personal preference is Smiling Mind because they have mindfulness exercises designed for a variety of ages, stages & situations - including ones for children. The sleep meditations are really helpful when worries are keeping me awake at night.
Mindfulness doesn't always have to involve a meditation. Simply standing in the sunshine taking a few deep breaths and just being for a minute or two can help calm your mind and help you refocus.
There are lots of resources and articles around which go into greater detail, but I hope that these tips will encourage you to spend 5 minutes a day to work on your mindset. And as a result that you'll have greater clarity, feel less panicked and be in a better position to make smart decisions for your business.