Episode 51: How to stay calm and focused in the face of uncertainty
This week Rachel is joined once more by Dr Caroline Walker, otherwise known as The Joyful Doctor to look at what on earth has happened over the past 6 months and what we can anticipate in the coming months.
In a metaphor filled episode, you’ll hear how naughty monkeys, heavy rucksacks and even professional football players can help us understand what’s in our toolkit to help us navigate the uncertainty and stress we might currently be facing.
It’s fair to say that we’re currently in an adjustment phase, learning how to work and live to the current rules, anticipating changes to these rules and processing this seismic shift from how our lives used to operate.
We’re seeing burnout from overwork,, anxiety over the uncertain future and amongst the general public, a sense of grief and loss at the change of life and liberty which is manifesting in anger – something GPs are in receipt of daily.
It’s common for people to vent their anger towards those they feel safe with.
Caroline describes two metaphors that can explain how this works, feelings can build up chaotically like a naughty monkey you’re holding onto, or a heavy burden like an overloaded rucksack.
When someone (a patient, client or colleague) vents to you, they are giving you the monkey or putting the rucksack down. You can placate the monkey or unpack the rucksack but you must hand the monkey or rucksack back.
When we’re overburdened we have a tendency to stop doing things that really help us maintain our self-care – exercise being a common victim. The need to maintain good self care is even more vital than ever in these times.
Consider the example of a professional footballer. If they were asked to play for 3 hours instead of 90 minutes what would they do? Devise a break plan, factor in more nutrition, add more to their team and so on. So, when we have extra pressure applied, what are we doing to make sure we can cope?
There are things that will be out of your control right now, so Rachel and Caroline give a reminder about the ‘Zone of Power’ and how this powerful tool can bring you a sense of calm and empowerment.
Their suggestions for getting back in control are:
- Try a calming technique such as box breathing (breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4 – repeat for several cycles).
- Stay within at your Zone of Power https://www.shapestoolkit.com/zone-of-power
- Seek external sources of help with anxiety whether online, with your GP or through self referral.
One ultimate top tip from Rachel and Caroline; Learn to leave things unfinished.
This sounds unlikely but they present a good argument for its benefits.