It was around week 4 of Covid. I was feeling antsy. I was starting to snap at my family. Suddenly I realized I was getting burned out from being cooped up at home with nowhere to go and no one to see. Of course, I was grateful that I was not all alone. After all, I had heard from a few of my friends who live alone that they hadn’t had a hug in weeks. And, I was grateful that neither my family, nor I were sick with the Covid.
But I was feeling so frustrated that I couldn’t go out to spend time with friends. Finally I realized I was burning out on the Covid. Do any of these thoughts or feelings resonate with you?
I began to wonder. If I am having these thoughts and feelings, perhaps other people are having them as well?
What did I do?
Besides doing what everyone else was doing – meeting friends and family on Zoom and binge-watching Netflix, I started to pay attention to how I was feeling.
First I remembered that there are things in life we can control and things we cannot control. We can’t control the virus, as individuals, but we can control our thoughts, which impact our feelings, our actions, and our reactions. This is not to say that I did not have a moment of anxiety or fear or frustration, but when I stopped, I realize that fear did not have to control my thoughts, and that I could heed my own advice and monitor and change my thoughts. Also, I remembered that we are staying home because we want to stop the spread of the virus.
Then I realized that I needed to try and focus on resilience. Resilience is about being able to recover quickly from any challenge.
How do we develop the ability to be resilient?
According to The American Psychological Association making connections is the first step, as I’ve mentioned earlier. The second step is to avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. That means you can’t control what happens, but you can control the way you react emotionally and verbally. Dr Viktor Frankl, who survived the Holocaust and afterwards remained in Austria to become a neurologist and psychiatrist, taught that though you may not have freedom over things that happen to you, you do have the freedom to choose how to respond.
Keeping things that happen in perspective helps you rise above the nuanced annoyances of life. And one way to rise above the annoyances is to STOP and AUDIT, the first tool in my new book Banish Burnout Toolkit, due out soon on Amazon.
What is STOP and AUDIT?
S-T-O-P stands for:
Take a Breath
The purpose of S-T-O-P is to catch yourself when you are stressed, and was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of modern-day mindfulness. It teaches you to take a STOP or pause when you are feeling stressed for any reason. Take a deep breath actually calms the whole nervous system. Observe means to take a look at your feelings and your reactions. Any time you react out of character, it is time to STOP, TAKE A BREATH, OBSERVE and then PROCEED. Proceed, as the name infers means to move on, with the knowledge of what is going on for you.
The second part of STOP and AUDIT is to perform the Stress Audit. That is where you write down exactly what your reactions were, during the OBSERVE portion of S-T-O-P. It is important to look at your physical reactions as well as your emotional, verbal, and even any possible addictive behavior. Sometimes we don’t even realize how upset we are getting until we overreact to something or our body tells us, if we are paying attention. Physical reactions may include, knots in our stomach, elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, headaches, etc. Emotional reactions may include negative self-talk or complaining about the people who may have verbally harmed you, instead of looking at how your reaction or over-reaction may be based on unresolved tangles from your past.
This tool, STOP and AUDIT makes up Tool #1 in my new book, Banish Burnout Toolkit™. If you would like to download the first chapter for free, simply go to http://banishburnouttoolkit.com. The full book will be out on Amazon soon and you will be able to find the links, as well, as an editable PDF version at www.JaniceLitvin.com/book.
For more information about my workplace wellness talks, go to www.JaniceLitvin.com/Speaking, or to schedule a time to chat about bringing me into your organization to lead one of my workshops, simply email me at Janice@JaniceLitvin.com.