Support others, structure your work and focus on opportunities.

Much of the world is in a state of emergency because of COVID-19. The virus and its social and economic consequences affect everyone.

Many schools and kindergartens are closed, and parents have to combine working from home with taking care of their children and home schooling. There are daily messages of companies laying off employees and facing bankruptcy. Despite governments’ urgent measures to limit the economic consequences for workers, many suffer the strain of insecurity.

While many are laid off, others must adjust to working in completely new ways. Across Norway and other countries teachers and lecturers organize online teaching. Employees, pupils and students who normally experience a safe and predictable framework face huge changes.

We know that one of the most important ways of reducing stress is social support. Reduced contact with colleagues and friends is a challenge to many at a time when colleagues and friends only can be reached through video calls. Technology is another well-known source of stress. Almost overnight, many have to learn new platforms for video conferences, webinars and online meetings. Some handle this well while others can feel overwhelmed by the complexity and insecurity in changing working routines suddenly.

How to take charge of yourself and manage stress

No matter how stressed you feel, there are strategies for taking charge in a productive and stress-reducing way.

1. Structure your workday through sub-goals

When the normal framework for life and work falls away, it is even more important to construct a good framework yourself. Keep normal working hours if you can. Make plans and milestones for yourself so that you (and others) know what to prioritize.

2. Focus on opportunities, not obstacles

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and scared when facing as much insecurity as we do now. If possible, try to see the situation as a chance to learn something new, for example a digital means of communication you would otherwise not have used.

3. Seek support from others, and support others where you can

Even though we must avoid direct contact with one another, we should give and ask for support from others through video calls and other digital platforms. Social support reduces stress even if it is through a screen.

Know that many share your situation. It is particularly important in the current situation that we work together to find good solutions, give good advice and give each other mental support.

Lastly, do not forget to support yourself. Do you praise yourself when you accomplish things? Do you tell yourself that things will be all right, or do you think that you cannot get through this? Remember that your inner dialogue is present whether you are aware of it or not.

This is a time to be extra kind both to others and to ourselves.

Sources:

Dewe, P.J. og Cooper, C.L., 2017, Work stress and coping. Forces of change and challenges. London Sage.

Einarsen, Ståle og Skogstad, Anders (red.), 2011, Det gode arbeidsmiljø – Krav og utfordringer, Fagbokforlaget.

Glasø, Lars og Thompson, Geir (red.), 2018, Selvledelse – teori, forskning og praksis, Gyldendal.

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