The last months have been intense. It's been a rollercoaster. The dips and rolls have been pretty steep for some of us. The whole world in lockdown has been a surreal experience and certainly nothing any of us has ever experienced before. There was no way any of us could have prepared mentally and emotionally for it. There has been no wrong way or right way to deal with the last three months but the pressure has been immense.
Have you noticed that you’re short tempered or irritable. Maybe you’re struggling with fatigue or lacking motivation. Maybe you just can’t seem to get going?
Something I’ve seen my clients struggle with, before lockdown and during, is what to do with the frustration that's bubbling away just under the surface. Carrying around all this nervous energy and uncertainty has an impact on our nervous system. We may feel like we are coping. We try to carry on as normal, “bearing up” and making the best of a bad situation but all the negative energy has to go somewhere.
The stress system relies on two key hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline works in the short term, while cortisol works in the long term. In prolonged periods of stress our adrenaline and cortisol levels rise and fall.
The Impact of Stress on Your Body
The stress system is activated if your brain perceives danger or any kind of threat. In the first stage, this triggers the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream to prepare the body for action. As a result, your heart beats faster, you begin to sweat and your breath becomes shallower, in extreme cases you may even experience a panic attack.
This is the fight or flight response to the stressor event, and was useful during our evolution, when these events were quite specific and usually short-term: escaping from a lion, running away from a bully or being told off by a teacher at school.
What starts out as a temporary stress response turns into chronic stress because we haven't been able to escape from the stressor. Covid-19 has been all around us, across the globe, on every news channel, on the front page of every paper and all over social media.
The Science Behind Stress
The initial surge of adrenaline can make you feel good but as adrenaline levels start dropping the amount of cortisol rises. When we are constantly in a high stress environment, a global pandemic for instance, your levels of cortisol slowly increase.
The combination of rising levels of cortisol and the decrease of adrenaline have unpleasant side-effects like feelings of anxiety, negative thinking, fatigue, depression and lack of motivation.
Ironically these feelings get more intense as you “come down” from the stress hormones so as we head out of lockdown and head towards a new “normal” don’t be surprised if you begin to feel worse not better.
What Can We Do About It?
I use a technique with my clients which helps them clear their minds of the unhelpful thinking that creates the negative feelings. These negative feelings mean they are easily triggered and frustrated by other people and often annoyed with themselves. They are stuck in a cycle of over-reacting and then beating themselves up about how they responded. Neither of which are useful.
Does this sound familiar? Do you feel grumpy more days than not? Are those nearest to you bearing the brunt of your negativity? Have you found yourself stuck in this cycle for hours or even days?
What you need is a good purge! Get the emotions out.
And here's how……..
Restoring Your Motivation
Often when you are feeling a lack of motivation, you have frustrations whirling around in your mind, the more they whirl, the more demotivated you feel.
Write it all out. Everything that is annoying you. All your frustrations. Have a proper rant on paper. No-one is going to read it. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or whether you change from uppercase to lowercase throughout, just get the frustrations out of your head, all of it out, onto the piece of paper.
Walk away. Go and get a drink or stand outside in the fresh air for ten minutes if you can.
Come back to your rant and read through what you've written. Circle the things that you can take something about. Only circle the things you can take action on.
Transfer the circled items onto a bullet point list. This is your to do list.
Destroy your rant list. Rip the paper up and throw it in the bin, shred it or burn it.
Now your mind is focused on the actions you want to take. Your frustration levels have reduced, and your motivation increased.
This simple but practical exercise should leave you feeling calm and more able to think practically about how to approach your problems or frustrations. You have an actionable list. You are now back in control. You have identified the real issues and you know what you can do to make yourself feel better.
The Benefits Of The Rant List
A safe, private place to share your concerns
Identifying stressors, such as negative thoughts and behaviours
Prioritising fears and problems
Tracking symptoms such as stress and anxiety
Repeat this exercise as often as you need to. The process of free writing all your frustrations and anxieties, as well as being a highly effective stress management tool, reduces the impact of physical stressors on your health.
Multiple studies have shown that journaling, even for short periods each day, over the course of a four-month period is enough to lower blood pressure.
Chronic anxiety and depression can lead to cognitive decline, so giving a voice to emotions and problems can help defuse their power and allow you to regain control of your mental well being.
I work on a one to one basis with successful individuals who have lost their mojo and need help getting it back. If you would like to know more about how I can help you to manage your motivation and boost your productivity levels, get in touch.