Taking a shower can be a magical, eye-opening experience if you grant your mind permission to wander into whatever it genuinely wants to wander into. Today I had one of these experiences.
As I submerged myself with piping hot water my mind automatically started reflecting on how incredibly stressed and anxious I was during the 2nd week of March due to all the events unfolding with the coronavirus (COVID19). It was rough. Taking in and attempting to analyze that much data about the world, economy, safety and where our future is headed is not a task for the weak. Especially as every single datapoint about COVID appeared to be dreadful. The more data I took in, the higher my stress and anxiety levels grew and the more unhappy I became.
Most people will say, “well stop ingesting so much information!” But why would I do that? Why wouldn’t I put myself in a position to learn as much as I can about a moment that history books will write about for centuries to come? Why wouldn’t I want to know about what’s going on in every single aspect of COVID and what it means for me, my family, my friends and my companies?
If you’re not getting ahead you’re being left behind. Good luck relying on someone else or even the government to bail you out. You see how that’s going. I never want to rely on a 3rd party for my future and wellbeing. So no good sir or madam! I will not stop ingesting this much data. I will not be left behind. I will be ahead and I will fend for myself.
My mind immediately started to shift into what I consider to be more important which is not really the “how,” it’s the “why.” I asked myself why I was so stressed during this time? What was the root cause of my significantly increased levels of anxiety? And boom it hit me instantly.
It came down to the 2 things that it always comes down to when I am feeling this way.
- Lack of clarity
- Lack of control
When I don’t have a clear understanding of something that can hurt me or my family my anxiety sky rockets. I start to envision all the ways my family and I might end up poor again. When I add on top the feeling of having zero control over the situation that will hurt me or my family, my stress starts to sky rocket because I promised myself we’ll never be poor again. The two happening in tandem puts me into a dark place as it completely sucks out all my positive energy and hope that keeps me going.
COVID was a perfect shit storm of this during that week. There was no clarity from our government as to what is going on, who is infected, how many deaths we are projecting, how we are getting ahead of the infections and what it means for our country. And forget me trying to gain control of this virus, the strongest nations in the world with access to data that I dream to have access to still don’t have control of the virus yet and weren’t willing to get ahead of it.
So I did what I always to do during the times I’m feeling like this. I took matters into my own hands. I researched this stupid coronavirus day-in and day-out for an entire week until I started to get clarity for myself on what the situation is, what it means for me and how I can take matters into my own hands. I didn’t care about the dark place I was in because there was no escaping it. There was absolutely no other way around it. I would have not been able to come out on the other side of this if I didn’t embrace the stress and anxiety that COVID brought to me for that entire week.
I finally got to my comfort zone around the virus by the end of that week and the very next Monday I was back in the game. My stress and anxiety since have been low and highly stable. I’m back to my best self which is highly optimistic & intelligently opportunistic.
If you’re in a similar boat, my advice is this:
- Figure out the exact “why(s)” of your increased level of stress and anxiety. Why exactly are you feeling this way?
- Figure out what are all the things you need to do to feel better about that “why.” What data points do you need clarity around?
- Become a maniac around all the things you just listed for the “what.” Do whatever you need to do to get them done for the week, hopefully less. Even if it means no sleep, no friends, no whatever it is that is distracting you.
- BONUS: Make a list of 3-5 things you need to complete the very next day on the night before. Circle the 1-2 things that are the most important or most annoying to finish.
Then wake up around 5-6am every single day and knock out what you circled for the next 90 minutes. And then the rest of the day you have time to finish the other tasks on your list. Trust me on this one, this is the most clutch for me and the days I did this my stress and anxiety levels were visibly better.
I might keep going through this every month until this crisis is over. If so, I’ll circle back to this post to repeat these steps and update with new things I try. If you have your own method of managing stress during uncertain times please share them with me. I am always open to trying new things as I’m consistently evolving. Good luck!