Uncertainty has marked the lives of many Americans the past week and a half with the government shut down. As you can imagine this growing uncertainty has lead to increased signs of stress. Some of the most common cognitive, emotional, and physical symptoms of stress are insomnia, anxiety, chest pain, depression, foggy thinking, headaches, gastrointestional problems, and increased blood pressure… just to name a few.
Part of the challenge with this kind of stress is that it is outside of our control. Most people can handle almost anything for a few days, but after that window of time, endurance fatigue starts to set in and people begin to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. It’s important to do what you can to manage the stress of the uncertain and unknown. Here are a few things that we recommend to our clients during times of stress…
Get the facts
There is a lot of misinformation out there. Find out as much as you can about how your manager or department is going to handle the fallout from the shut down. There is some information they do not and will not know for a while, but having as many concrete facts as you can get will help you to be able to start to make a plan for the things that you can control.
Change what you can
There is a lot that is outside of your control; however for the things that you can control, make some changes. Save more. Cut back. Set up a budget. Go on a trip.
Stay in the present and positive
It’s easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” of the future. One of the most important things that you can do is stay focused on the present – today, tonight, tomorrow. We internalize the stories we tell ourselves. Make it a point to speak positive thoughts and focus on the things you have to be grateful for. It’s especially difficult in time of crisis and uncertainty, and it can feel like taking a breath is overwhelming. You find what you are looking for – if you look for moments of joy you will find them. If you look for fear and anxiety, you will find that too.
Connect with your community
Make it a point to connect with others in your community. It can be easy to feel isolated and alone; however some data suggests that nearly 30% of Americans are affected by the shutdown. Talking to someone is a great way to manage some of the fear and doubt. Call someone from your office or reach out to a neighbor.
Above all else – during times of stress we recommend making time to take care of yourself. Be active. Go for a walk. Do something new. Read a book. Go outside. There is a list of self-care activities on our website…you can check them out here.