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Four steps to navigate this new ‘normal’

The normal rules do not apply

What is ‘normal’? I find this an interesting question because what is one person’s ‘normal’ can very much be someone else’s ‘abnormal’. I saw Vivienne Porritt give a fantastic TEDx where she said normal is a setting on a washing machine so the word should be banned in terms of describing people; instead, we should celebrate and value what each unique person has to offer.

Daily, we’re adjusting to all this and for each one of us, there are different challenges we face and we will all think, feel and act differently - our own version of ‘normal’.

Many are being furloughed, therefore earning less than they are used to, unless their employer is generously making up the difference; some have lost their job – their company simply cannot keep their footing in these uncertain times; there are those on zero contract hours and their employer has had to put things on hold, so therefore they are now deeply concerned about income; small businesses are struggling to stay afloat – perhaps they can pivot and try new avenues to earn but many may feel hopeless in this current climate. Maybe working from home and feeling connected to a team is a challenge, throw home-schooling in the mix and you’ve got some plate juggling going on. Isolation, warring families now under one roof for the foreseeable future and these are just a few challenges; I could go on.

Mindset under attack

There is growing concern for the psychological welfare for those NHS staff working on the frontline. One BBC News at Ten report was filmed in the ICU at University College Hospital in London and a Nurse interviewed who’d worked in the ICU for 23 years, said she’d never seen anything like this, not even during the London Bombings. Dr Andrew Molodynski, a consultant psychiatrist and mental health lead for the British Medical Association, said: "Health workers are used to seeing death, but we aren't used to seeing lots and lots of people die when we can't do anything about it. That will cause a lot of symptoms of anxiety, depression and trauma.”  

How do these amazing NHS heroes cope?

Check up from the neck up

For so many right now, there are probably thoughts and feelings that they have no control in any of this. This is a whole new normal for all of us and we are each getting used to a new way of life. We are all living through the strangest of times and it’s amplified by the fact this is global and that every decision we make is influenced by one thing.

However, we can take control of one thing – our mindset. Our mindset is key to us making sense of our thoughts and our resulting emotions and how we can move forward with purpose and conscious thinking. It’s a day by day, step by step approach and it’s vital to check in with the nature of our thinking – to address the subconscious thoughts which are driving our feelings, thus behaviour and the habits we are building.

How do we get our head around what’s panning out before us and of which we have absolutely no control whatsoever?

Regaining control

I believe there’s a four-step approach and if we keep our mindset in check, despite the challenges, we can keep our sanity intact when we get through to the other side of this.

Step 1 - Recognise: Acknowledge those feelings and emotions coming to the forefront. They might be fear – for your health and that of your loved ones; disappointment – having to cancel family meet ups, weddings, job interviews, work projects, home building work, holiday cancellation; frustration around the impact of the whole situation which ripples out in so many different areas of life. Recognise that you might be getting yourself into a downward spiral and it’s best to stop, take a moment and breathe.

Step 2 - Process: Process these feelings- what’s the underlying thought process? What’s at the root of the problem (apart from the bloomin’ obvious!)? Is it about health, money, feeling isolated, your job situation, living arrangements? Identify the source of these emotions – that is, the nature of your thinking.

How are you currently thinking about it? Because if you want different results, it’s going to need to start with the type of thoughts you’re having.

Step 3 – Reframe: What can you do in that moment to reframe your thinking – to shift the thinking pattern? Would playing your favourite track LOUD help? Talking to yourself out loud whilst pacing around to process your thoughts? (Is that just me? Erm, maybe…) Maybe going for a run, a walk or simply getting some fresh air – a change of scenery. Reading? Meditation? Talking to someone – maybe about something completely different. It’s about reframing your mindset because when our brain is in a negative state, it cannot be resourceful – it cannot be solution-orientated nor see opportunities if they present themselves to us. Once we’ve changed our thought patterns, we have a different perspective about the matter in hand.

Step 4 – Control: Take back control. Only you can control the type of thoughts you have because you are not your thoughts. Understand the nature of your thinking and if it’s not working for you, reframe and regain control so that you can find the answers or to feel more in control of how you are thinking, feeling and acting. Rather than donate the control of how you are feeling to external forces, take it back. Step up, be bold, have courage because you can do this.

Now, on paper (screen I suppose!), this might all sound like I think it’s incredibly easy to do but I know it can be hugely challenging when we are in a difficult situation – we can’t see the wood for the trees but that’s what stress, tiredness and panic does. That’s why the above four steps help us to regain that sense of control and that we are the masters of our own destiny – it is not pre-written in the stars.

We each have it within us to get through this. It’s about playing our part – staying at home when we can and resetting our mindset when necessary to remain in control. This is unchartered territory and each day we are making our way through all this as best we can; however, if we have a strong, resilient and resourceful programme that is running continuously, as someone very wise said to me recently, it doesn’t guarantee we don’t allow ourselves to be impacted and affected by stuff, it just means, in our more lucid moments, we have the tools to make sense of this crazy world and decide how we want to think about it all. Because we do have that choice, as challenging as we might sometimes feel it is, the choice is there for the taking and goodness me, we need that anchor of control right now.

COVID-19: Mindset Videos

Check out our Winning Edge YouTube Channel, where you'll find my series of videos, where I will explore the importance of our mindset during these challenging times and share top tips on how to manage your thinking, to feel more resilient and in control. 

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