Three Simple Ways to Make Sure you Don’t Break During a Crisis
What I want to talk about today is leading and living through the biggest crisis of our lives – an unprecedented global change. I have a sense that almost nothing will the same again – certainly not in 2021.
I am guessing you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. You barely have time to read this. So let me keep this one short. Each one of us has been through crises before, but none like this, and hopefully we never will go through this again.
Foundationally, three of the best things you can do when under stress are get plenty of sleep, eat healthily, and get exercise.
But probably, they are also among the first to go in a crisis.
I know we are tempted to sacrifice them, but I also know that needs to stop. Turning in early, taking a 15-minute nap, or even doing a few sets of pushups when you’re in lockdown can help your mental and emotional health. And basically, that is what you are bringing to your life in a crisis — your energy and your mind.
But since you already know about sleep, diet, and exercise, here are three other things you can do to help you navigate the crisis.
1. Walk Away
Your brain can only process so much. Same with your heart. There are moments where a crisis demands that you have to push through. But you are not a machine. You do have limits. If you’re exhausted (and perhaps even before you feel exhausted), one of the best things you can do is walk away. Just take a breather.
And this also applies if you are “getting into it” with someone else – sometimes when tensions are heightened, it is best just to walk away, because if you are honest with yourself, will that argument really matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things?
I realize it is not always possible, and that you will tell yourself there is no time to take a break, and that is probably correct. That’s why I recommend that you think of it as walking away, as opposed to taking a break.
Of course, many times you might be walking away from need. In a crisis there is always more to do. The need never goes away, and you can never do enough. But people who never take a break end up breaking themselves.
Which is why, for your sake and everyone’s sake, you need to sometimes walk away. It might be difficult, but just do it – give yourself permission to do it.
So how do you know when it’s time to walk away for a moment or two? Let your energy levels guide you. When your energy is low, you won’t accomplish much anyway. What if you cooperated with your energy levels instead of fighting them?
Instead of staring mindlessly at your screen for another 30 minutes, get up. Stretch. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Grab a coffee. Grab some silence.
Or maybe…call it a day. A rested you — a restored you — is a better you.
2. Carve Out Some Silence
Every day, find at least a few minutes of solitude alone. Mornings are easiest because they are often the most quiet. Allow yourself to just sit in the silence. Let your mind wander. Ponder problems. Think.
You will discover a few things: the silence will help you filter through what actually matters, amidst all the noise. You will stumble upon breakthroughs that result from giving your mind and soul some space. The silence will be tremendously refreshing. Spending time in silence will help you make a meaningful contribution in the midst of all the noise a crisis creates.
3. Talk to a Friend
If you think about it using a banking metaphor, living in a crisis is a series of withdrawals. Too many of us burn out when the withdrawals are matched by zero deposits. Many a time we actually even go into “overdraft.” So, in addition to sleep, diet, exercise, taking breaks, and making time for silence, the final deposit you will want to make comes from friends.
In a crisis, you can be surrounded by people but feel all alone. That is why friends are so important. I find in a time like this that friends help me work through the issues, hear my fears, and help me process, and I hopefully do the same for them. And sometimes, just knowing that someone else doesn’t know the answer is comfort enough.
Loneliness is a choice. So is friendship. So pick up the phone, get on a video chat, or even just hang out outside at a safe distance, and replenish your soul with some company. It will undoubtedly make you feel better!