5 tools to change your mindset about coronavirus

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Feelings of anxiety and fear have been pervasive during the coronavirus pandemic, and Americans are struggling to stay positive and resilient. Employers can help address negativity with simple strategies to increase staff productivity, says Deborah Ann Davis, author of “How to Get Your Happy On.”

“Nobody has an instruction manual, so they’re trying to figure things out from a place of fear and everybody's kind of panicking,” Davis says. “But if we just stop and look at what’s actually going on, we could calm down.”

Read more: Employers can use positive psychology to connect with employees in times of crisis

To tackle stress and anxiety around COVID-19, companies can help employees understand that many of the challenges we’re facing now have always been present, Davis says.

“The ‘new normal’ is change. It will be different in a month, and it will be different in six months. And that's OK because we've always dealt with change,” Davis says. “You may be at home working, which is a huge change, but you’ve always had to deal with your kids, or your boss or getting income. Recognize the things you were already working with and conquering and handling and capitalize on that.”

Read more: 6 ways employee well-being is suffering during COVID-19

Davis shares her tactics and tips for how to shift perspectives around COVID to build a stronger workforce.

Let go of things outside of your control

My philosophy is let it go. You don't need to concern yourself with stuff you can't possibly control, like whether the schools are going to open or not. You can't control that. So don't worry about it until they’ve sorted it out. Or if you’re concerned about when you’ll return to the office, don't worry about it because your bosses have to figure that out. You need to figure out how to keep your household calm and organized in the way you were before COVID hit. If you’re trying to take care of everything, then you can't take care of anything.

Focus on yourself first

If you take care of you and make yourself strong, then you can help people around you. The best way to take care of you first is to handle your fears by eliminating your exposure to the thing that's making you fearful.

One way to do this is by limiting your exposure to the news. Don't have it on in the background, reminding you the same thing over and over and over again. Then you can stay present and in the moment and take care of things you can control. Is that doing a load of laundry, or writing a report for my boss? What’s next? That's what I'm going to focus on.

Reach out for support

If you cannot control your fears, then don't do it by yourself. Go to a support group, or go to a counselor. Talk to your neighbor, talk to your best friend, talk to your parents. Your fear is diminished greatly when you're talking to other people. There's a calmness that goes with that, like a little ripple of peace that goes through your body, and you want to grab that and build on it.

Take time to be thankful

Gather your family together, and take a thankful moment. It will be calming. It will be centering. Bosses would be well advised to do that with their teams. Every day as a group, they can do it out loud to regroup and say, We're here. We have jobs. We have money. We have food. We have shelter. We are thankful.

Tap into happiness hormones

When you smile, the muscle action triggers the nerves, which triggers your brain and your gut, and it creates happy hormones. Even if you just grin right now for no particular reason, your body creates those hormones anyway, because your body can't tell the difference. Deep breathing can also change the chemical balance in your body. Doing something for someone else also elevates brain chemicals. Hold a door for somebody, or pay for somebody else's groceries. I'm even a big proponent of crying because the negative hormones leave your body through your tears. That's why after you cry, you feel that new, fresh kind of feeling.