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Managing Stress During the New Normal

These are unprecedented times right now. During this recent global pandemic, the activity around the summer months has been seemingly stripped away - almost instantaneously.

By Sara Dickison Taylor

Sara Dickison Taylor, ACC, is an iRelaunch recommended coach and President & Founder, Celebrate Life by Design, LLC. A member of the International Coaching Federation, Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College and is also a graduate of the internationally recognized Coach University. As noted above, Sara studied her coaching craft with Dr. Martha Beck, renowned columnist for O Magazine and New York Times bestselling author.

In the Corona crisis's daunting wake, we're left with nothing but canceled vacations, missed family reunions, empty backyard barbeques, or promised jobs that never started. And just like that, there are no more summer camps for our kids or face-to-face networking. In the blink of an eye, life as we usually have known it has changed. What's left can be described as an unsettled feeling of unease and anxiousness.

As an Executive Leadership Coach, I continuously hear my clients pleading… "but how do I get back to the way life use to be?" They are fervently seeking a magic wand to rewind to February 2020 or before we even witnessed the term COVID-19. Coaching is very much about the present moment, the here and now, and what you ultimately desire for the future. I partner with my clients to build doable and manageable action steps towards the tomorrow's they wish to create. The world of possibility is craved now more than ever during these times of unrest. Here are some helpful strategies to fully step into this new normal and set a powerful intention for serenity and resiliency… even in the hardest of times. You CAN do this!

The Art of Staying Present

There is immense power in meditation and getting rebalanced amid angst and stress. If you can breathe, you can meditate. Just the power of our breath can rapidly change our "fight-or-flight" response and ground us to the present moment. Navy Seals also facilitate one of the most natural and most effective breathing techniques I use daily. "Box breathing" is inhaling your breath on the count of 1…2…3…4, holding for a count of 1…2…3…4 and then slowly releasing on the count of 1…2…3…4. This cyclical pattern, even for just 30 seconds, can be done anywhere and at any time. You'll be amazed at how easy this is and how only your breath's power can re-center and self soothe. Think of meditation as a beautiful way of recharging your batteries and lengthening your emotional bandwidth. By celebrating what we are grateful for in the moment, even the smallest of things can be rejuvenating and immediately change your lens of perspective. Another helpful tip is to write three things down every day that you are grateful for. What has changed for the better during this time of social distancing? Have you enjoyed more time with your immediate family? A chance to perhaps catch up on those many books piled by your bedside table. Or even reconnect with old high school friends via Zoom calls? Or how about cleaning out that neglected coat closet and donating to those in need? By focusing on the good, even when fraught with anxiety, we can realign our stress level and shine a light on what's truly possible.

Move Your Body

Now more than ever, self-care needs to be at the top of your list. It's very easy to slump into extra pandemic comfort food calories or Netflix binges on the couch. There are many virtual options to exercise - from online yoga classes to fun Instagram dance parties. Taking part in some sort of exercise, stretching or movement every day is helpful while also being mindful of healthy eating habits and good sleep hygiene. Grab your face mask and take a walk around your neighborhood and explore nature all around you. Or better yet, turn up your earphones in the privacy of your own home and dance like no one's watching! You'll feel so good, trust me!

Make A Schedule and Stick to It

Securing a container around time and having parts of the day, week, the month you can count on, and know are etched in stone is especially helpful during this time of uncertainty. Set your alarm and take time each day to meditate, journal your thoughts, catch up with a friend over Facetime, walk the dogs, or have coffee with your spouse. Put it in the calendar, even as a recurring appointment, so it's marked in time and something you can look forward to. I know if I don't write it down or schedule an actual time, it's realistically not going to happen. Consider this a real commitment to YOU!

The Power of Connection

We're all in this together. Use this beautiful collective energy to feel witnessed and understood. Seek out that friend that makes you giggle and make a phone date or exchange a witty text. A good laugh can go a long way. Don't be afraid to be transparent about your feelings and some of the struggles you've had. Social distancing helps to flatten the curve, but it also creates space for feeling isolated and alone. It's okay to ask for help and support. We are all human and random acts of kindness and reaching out to others can go a long way.

Embrace the Corona Crisis on Your Terms

Taking care of your emotional and physical health is at the forefront of managing stress during this new normal. But it is also equally important to filter how you process the news of the world around you. Establish a routine around how you watch, read, or listen to news stories and social media. Schedule specific times during the day when you absorb pandemic stories and set clear-cut boundaries around them – focusing on reliable sources. It's easy to be inundated with hopeless negativity around our global pandemic. Be thoughtful and protective of how you process all this. Be mindful of what you can and cannot control. Never in our lifetime have we witnessed such a crisis affecting our community, country, or the world. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. You may have endured other storms before in your life and made it through. You've GOT THIS! Pledge to take things one day at a time… here and now.

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