How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

You hear about it everywhere—TV, newspapers, the internet. It’s all your family and friends are talking about.

It’s impossible to get away from.

And you wonder, “What’s going to happen me? What’s in store for my loved ones? What’s happening to our country?”

The constant coronavirus drumbeat of doom in your head can cause overwhelming anxiety.

Not only does it make you feel bad, but studies have found that stress suppresses your immune system.[1]

Here are five ways to calm your jangled nerves during the coronavirus crisis.

5 Ways to Beat Coronavirus Stress

  1. Stay in contact with others. Social distancing does not mean social isolation.

Dr. Harriet Lerner is a psychologist and author. She says that even though you need to stay at home, you shouldn’t cut yourself off from those you care about. “Use the phone, text, email—all means possible—to stay connected to friends, neighbors, your adult children, anyone who matters to you,” says Dr. Lerner. “People need to hear your voice, and vice versa.”

    Stay entertained. Now is the time to binge watch that TV series you’ve heard is good, enjoy movies, pick up a good book, listen to music, or do whatever entertains you within the walls of your home.

A study published in the journal Health Communication found that the more subjects watched TV, the more their cortisol levels dropped. Cortisol is the “fight-or-flight” hormone. It makes you feel anxious and is linked to high blood pressure, weight gain, and depression.[2]

    Accept what you can’t control. Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom is the NBC News health editor. She says it’s important to come to terms with “the new normal.” Recognize that you’re not alone, that “this is a universal worry, and we’re all in this together.”

    Accepting that social distancing is necessary is a good way to reduce stress. But keep in mind that our old, normal way of life will return. Dr. Fernstrom suggests you occasionally tell yourself aloud, “This is not forever.”[3]

    Write. When coronavirus fears start to get the better of you, write down those troublesome thoughts. It will help you get them out of your system to look at them objectively. Also write down positive things.

    Remind yourself how you’ve coped with difficult times in the past. Write a list of things you’re grateful for. All this will focus your mind away from stressful thoughts.

  • Take L-theanine supplements. L-theanine is an amino acid. It’s naturally found in green and black tea. It fights anxiety and promotes relaxation without making you sleepy. L-theanine is well-suited for the times—studies have found that it specifically lowers anxiety in people who are going through stressful events.[4]

Franklin Roosevelt famously told Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Don’t let yourself become a victim of anxiety. Keeping your cool will help keep you healthy.

Editor’s Note: If you’re worried about the coronavirus outbreak, you need to know about “infinite immunity.” It’s a recent Nobel Prize-winning discovery that gives your body the power to fight off most infections. You can find out more by reading our monthly journal, Independent Healing. Go HERE.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

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We’ve all come across stressful moments in our lives. It affects our productivity and influences our choices. Learning to manage during stressful times is vital for health and lifestyle. Here are some ways to keep calm and carry on when you’re experiencing stress.

Keep a journal

Keeping a journal works as a way to vent without involving another person. Writing out your thoughts is a physical way of letting your emotions out. It’s tangible and writing can help channel out negative feelings.

Exercise

Leaving the house is difficult when you feel stressed out. I’ve had my fair share of days where I curl up into my bed and waste my day away. This left me feeling stuck and vulnerable. I started slowly by taking walks to my mail box then tried to routinely go for walks. This helps me move around and get out of my house without having to go too far and join a gym. Other forms of exercise also help to reduce stress.

Keep busy

Keeping busy helps you focus on tasks on hand rather than letting your mind wander to “what-if” scenarios. Free time leads to a vicious cycle of feeling sorry for yourself and leaves your mind to constantly think of your problems.

Assess your problems

In most cases, the majority of our problems are all in our head. Over-thinking leads to imagining problems that are as problematic as they seem. Ask yourself, “is this really an issue?” I’ve had countless moments in life when I thought I was stuck for good. I look back now and realize how silly I was for overreacting to my problems. Take time out to assess your problems before turning them into long-term issues.

Drink water and eat healthily

Stress-eating is one of the worst issues during hard times. I’m guilty of it myself. I can go through leftover cold pizza, ramen noodles, soda, and coffee within the same three-hour period. It’s horrifying and while it feels great at the moment, I feel even worse than I did before once the day has ended. Treat yourself once in awhile but don’t indulge in the dreadful world of binge-eating.

Listen to music

Music is a gateway to a different world. Listening to music is one of my favorite things to do during stressful times as it takes my mind off of the things bothering me. I either listen to happy music to get me through the day or have a solid cry session listening to sad music. I use Spotify to listen to my music; it recommends other songs and offers mood-based playlists, as well.

Cry it out

Speaking of crying it out, it is a great way to relieve stress. It works as an emotional detox. I tend to let things build up until I suddenly break down and cry a good, ugly cry. I feel better immediately afterward.

Vent to a friend

Vent to someone if you have a friend you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with. Sometimes, it’s not even advice we need but someone to listen. Venting your emotions is a great way to let out all of the anger, hurt, pain, or depression you’ve been letting simmer inside.

Watch something funny

I love to watch stand-up comedy when I feel sad. It’s my go-to feel-good remedy. Netflix offers a variety of options, including comedians like Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, or Louis C.K. If you’re not into stand-up comedy, try watching other shows (I recommend The Office or Parks and Rec) or watch funny dog or cat videos on YouTube. Whatever it is, laugh away your problems until you feel better.

Just breathe

The most important thing to do during stressful periods of life is to breathe. Try breathing exercises. I personally have invested in an air purifier to help me breathe better at home. It clears out the dust and allergens and improves the air circulation in my room. The pink noise also helps me sleep better. When I feel anxious, I can’t take deep breaths properly and this leads to more stress and anxiety, so this solution helps a lot.

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack. Read full profile

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

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Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay cool in stressful situations, here’s how stay calm in 8 quick steps:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

3. Chew Slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let Go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you: 21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the Journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting.

Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the Big Picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop Demanding Perfection of Yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

Take a look at this article and find out why perfectionism is bad for you: How Perfectionism Secretly Screws You Up

8. Practice Patience Every Day

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.” — Saadi

Here’re a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final Thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eating mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

2 of 3 A Fighter Squadron 33 (VF-33) F-14A Tomcat aircraft heads for the setting sun during a flight off of the aircraft carrier USS AMERICA (CV 66). LCDR Ken Neubauer Show More Show Less

In 1939 the dark clouds of World War II were hanging over Great Britain. The Ministry of Information was given the assignment of designing three posters that would build morale throughout the country during the testing times that lay ahead.

They were told to use a “special and handsome typeface” that would be difficult for their enemies to counterfeit. The background was to be a bold color. And the only image on the posters was to be the crown of King George VI.

The first two were readied quickly and distributed in September of 1939. The first poster said, “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory.” The second read, “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might.” These two were posted all over the country in hope the messages would bring out the duty of the individual citizen in stressful times.

But the third poster, of which two and a half million were printed, never got circulated. It was only to be issued in the event that Germany invaded Great Britain. Since that event never occurred, the poster was not seen in public. At least not for about sixty years.

The British leaders devised messages to prepare their people to handle anxiety producing times. Might I ask how you carry yourself through stressful times?

In the first three chapters of Mark, Jesus trains his disciples in how to handle stress by taking them into stressful situations. These culminated in the religious leaders plotting how to kill Jesus. Talk about stress!

But with the threat of bombs dropping Jesus went away to a deserted place to pray. He focused on God. Later, when the disciples became frightened in a real storm on the sea, they brought their concerns to Jesus. Those two actions can teach us much: focus on God and bring our concerns to Jesus. Jesus wants us to find calm in our chaos.

And so did the British as they were pulled into World War III. The first two posters helped people understand their role in victory and their role in defending their freedom. But the third poster was never issued because Germany never invaded Great Britain. Most that had been made were burned or trashed at the end of the war. That’s why few people had seen or remembered the third poster.

Until one turned up in 2000. Stuart and Mary Manley owned Barter Books in Northumberland in the northeast corner of England. They had bought a number of boxes of books at an auction. Stuart was rummaging through a box of old books and found something folded up in the box.

  1. Five Astros, including four starters, headed to injured list
  2. Tucker Carlson villainizes journalists on his top-rated show. Then the threats pour in.
  3. Waco car dealer offers Jeep so Baylor can recruit players ‘out of the hood’
  4. Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst arrested on domestic violence charge
  5. One civil suit against Deshaun Watson dropped for privacy concerns

When he straightened it out he found a poster. Red background. Crown on top. The only words were these: Keep Calm and Carry On.

Memorize the line. Next time you feel as if life is dropping its bombs on you, remember that what is producing anxiety now will be replaced by something new next year. Focus instead on God. Then throw off your anxieties on him. He cares for you.

And believing that, you can keep calm and carry on.

By Bethany Teachman, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia

Well-meaning advice for people freaking out about current events often includes encouragement to be patient, stay calm and keep the faith… but how on earth are you supposed to do that amid the insanity of 2020?

As a practicing clinical psychologist and professor who studies how to manage anxiety and tolerate uncertainty, I offer 10 suggestions to make it through this highly stressful election period.

1. Put the phone down!

While it is tempting to stay glued to your devices during this time, the never-ending doomscrolling and screen-refreshing becomes overwhelming and keeps you in a state of tension and constant vigilance. The excessive consumption of news and social media predicts poorer long-term mental health during times of crisis.

Plan some breaks where you can engage in other activities that take your mind off politics and the uncertainties we face, and allow things to feel a little more normal for a while.

2. Uncertainty doesn’t equal catastrophe

It’s hard not to know things – outcomes of elections, for instance. But not knowing shouldn’t mean that you assume the worst-case scenario has occurred. When you’re anxious (as many in the U.S. are right now), you tend to assign threatening meanings to ambiguous situations, but this tendency is neither accurate nor helpful. Jumping to catastrophic conclusions is like setting off a series of false alarms that keep you on edge and exaggerate your sense of threat.

3. Don’t retreat into bed

The feeling of deep disappointment about election results you don’t like, or apprehension about upcoming results, can trigger a desire to withdraw and hole up. While that response is natural, it tends to be counterproductive. Staying engaged in activities that give you a sense of accomplishment, pleasure or meaning can make managing this time far less painful.

4. Remember it’s happened before

While in many ways it is true that 2020 is unique and unprecedented, it’s also the case that human beings tend to be remarkably resilient, even in the face of tremendous stress and trauma. This difficult time will not last forever. Things won’t magically all get better, but time will move forward, this situation will change and you will keep putting one foot in front of the other.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times Even video chatting can be a way to connect over a shared activity.
Cavan Images/Cavan via Getty Images

5. Don’t go through this time alone

While the pandemic means you need to remain physically distant from others, this should not mean staying socially or emotionally distant. When people experience acute stress, they cope much better if they have social support.

So reach out and stay connected – whether that means texting about the latest vote count with a friend or purposefully taking a break from ruminating on current events (it’s a great chance to deeply discuss how you each feel about the new season of “The Mandalorian”).

6. Stay regular

No, I am not referring to your bowels – maintain a regular and healthy eating, sleep and exercise pattern. While recommendations for self-care may seem unimportant, attending to those basic bodily needs can go a long way toward keeping your resources sufficiently replenished so you can meet the high demands of this time. There is increasing evidence that poor sleep is closely connected to many mental and emotional health difficulties.

So stop refreshing your feed in the wee hours and try to sleep.

7. Help others

This may feel like an odd time to be asked to support others when you feel so depleted yourself, but helping others is linked to benefits in your own mental health.

Moreover, it provides a sense of control. There’s so much during this time that you cannot control – there is no magic wand that speeds up vote counting in those critical contested races or makes senate run-offs in January come sooner. But taking action to improve things now for the people around you both helps others and reminds you that you can make a difference in meaningful ways.

So, bake cookies to drop off on the doorstep of the friend who is quarantined. Offer to take an item off a work colleague’s overwhelming to-do list. If you’re in a position to help, make a donation to a cause you care about. It’s a win-win.

8. Take a breath

Each person is different in what helps them to relax or feel more centered. Focusing on and slowing down your breathing, for instance, can help keep you grounded in the present moment and reduce the spiral of upsetting thoughts about what might come next.

For many people, online mindfulness exercises or relaxation recordings can make a big difference. Check out online mental health programs that have been reviewed by experts and pick the resource that’s right for you.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times Cut some slack for yourself and others – this is a time when good enough is good enough. Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

9. Offer compassion to yourself

The combination of “COVID-19 brain” plus “election brain” (along with the pain and losses of the last eight months) means few of us will be at our best right now.

There’s a lot of room between performing at 100% of your usual capacity and climbing into bed and hiding under the covers for days on end. Personally, I’m trying to average 80%. People managing greater homeschooling, economic, health, discrimination and other challenges at this time than I am may shoot for a lower percentage.

No one is making it through this time unscathed, so kindness to ourselves and others is desperately needed.

10. Reach out if you need additional help

If recommendations 1-9 aren’t cutting it, there are lots of resources to help people through this difficult period:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • Find a therapist
  • Find culturally competent mental health care
  • Try an app focused on managing COVID-19 stressors, such as COVID Coach
  • Use my research team’s free intervention to reduce anxious thinking: MindTrails (part of an online study)

Be patient, stay calm and keep the faith is a tall order. I’ll be happy if I can get most of the way there.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Support yourself and your family by developing a calmer, more resilient attitude to challenging situations

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed or hopeless in challenging situations?

Would you like to develop a calmer way of responding when the going gets tough?

When the world around you feels like it’s crumbling, it’s easy to feel despondent and to want to give up. It sucks when things aren’t going your way, and it’s natural to have feelings of sadness and frustration. But giving up is not what we humans are designed to do.

For millennia, people have repeatedly faced challenges, losses, and upheavals. Throughout recorded history we see periods of stability punctuated by periods of change, and even periods of crisis. And we’ve survived. Why? Because that’s what we’ve evolved to do, above all else.

That’s why Burmese fishermen were able to survive in shark-infested waters for 25 days after their ship sank. It’s why teenager Juliane Diller survived days in the jungle after a plane crash. It’s why countles refugees have risked everything to make a new life in a new country. They did it because they had to. They did it because the instinct for survival trumps everything else.

Every one of us has this survival instinct hiding beneath the surface, and we can call on this instinct to help us ‘keep calm and carry on’ as we tackle difficult situations.

How? Well, it starts with redirecting your focus.

What can you control?

Feelings of hopelessness and panic can trick us into thinking we have lost control completely. But no matter how restrictive your current circumstances may feel, there are always things within your control. And that’s what you need to focus on.

How can you support your friends and family? How can you improve your health and wellbeing? How can you contribute to an important cause? How can you brighten someone’s day? What can you learn? What can you create? What can you change? What can you plan for the future?

In times of crisis it is natural to dwell on what’s wrong. But if you look hard enough, there are always things to be grateful for. Appreciate the little things, and never stop moving towards a brighter future. This too shall pass.

How hypnosis can help

While changing your approach on a cognitive level is a worthy aim, this can sometimes be easier said than done. That’s why hypnosis is such a useful tool – it changes the way you view adversity at a subconscious level, helping to ingrain this new way of thinking as an integral part of who you are.

Keep Calm and Carry On is an audio hypnosis session that will help you remain calm and in control when faced with challenging situations.

As you relax and listen repeatedly to your session, you’ll notice that you:

  • Feel stronger and more resilient in yourself
  • Approach difficult situations with calm resolve
  • Are a solid rock for your family to lean on
  • Feel more relaxed in general
  • Can help others deal with the stress of adversity.

Download Keep Calm and Carry On now and develop a mindset that will help you make the most of difficult circumstances.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

Keep Calm and Carry On

BY FRED CORDEIRO

11 May 2020 | 4 min read

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. The extraordinary COVID-19 pandemic scrambles this definition. Measures like Work From Home and Safe Distancing are challenging our traditional ways of life and making it difficult to work productively and contribute to society.

This pandemic has unleashed extraordinary stressors in our daily lives. Thus, it is important to ground ourselves and learn to reframe any catastrophizing thoughts. We can start by looking at how we, as a country and community, have overcome past viral pandemics. SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009 are good examples. While there was much suffering, these events eventually passed and we moved on with our lives. Similarly, we will overcome COVID-19 although it may take some time.

Stress that is short-term or one-off, although potentially intense, is referred to as acute stress. COVID-19, SARS and H1N1 bring about acute stress. Acute stress can have positive effects. The short- term release of stress hormones helps us to focus on the threat and take steps to ensure our survival. In the case of COVID-19, we take proactive steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from infection by practicing good personal hygiene, safe distancing and avoiding social interaction.

On the other hand, chronic stress is long-term and recurring. Chronic stress causes wear and tear to our mind and bodies and the constant release of stress hormones weakens our immunity and resilience.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

Our genes, personality traits and socio-economic environments can affect our coping mechanisms towards acute stressors.

We can take steps to manage our stress. Here are some ways:

  1. Observe where your stress is coming from. Family? Work? Health? Understanding what causes you stress and to what degree are important first steps.
  2. Face up to the issues that are causing you stress. Acknowledge your worries and face up to them. Avoiding problems and wallowing in negativity will not make them go away.
  3. Analyze your problems. A problem may seem overwhelming initially but become more manageable on closer examination. Ask yourself how serious the problem is and the actions you can take.
  4. Take small steps and be patient. Don’t expect to find a magic bullet that will make your problems go away overnight. Remember, every little step matters. Keep chipping away at your problem.
  5. Change how you react. If nothing else can be done, it may be time to let the worry go. We may not be able to change our problems, but we can decide how we want to react to them. For example, we can decide to focus on improving other areas of our lives.
  6. Be Grateful. Give thanks regularly for all that you are thankful for. Research shows that gratitude improves physical health, self-esteem and boosts mental strength. Keep a Gratitude Journal and jot down your entries daily, although making a mental note in your head is great too!

The ability to cope mentally with stress differs from person to person. Each one of us is built differently. Our genes, personality traits, past experiences and socio-economic environments can affect how well we cope with stress.

If stress is causing you severe distress and you are finding it difficult to cope with daily life, do seek professional support. Click on ‘I Need Support Now’ on the menu bar to access a directory of mental health support services. You can also call the National Care Hotline for help.

The contributor is an Executive Director at Clarity Singapore.

Author

Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia

Disclosure statement

Bethany Teachman receives funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. She is the Director of the MindTrails site.

Partners

University of Virginia provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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Well-meaning advice for people freaking out about current events often includes encouragement to be patient, stay calm and keep the faith… but how on Earth are you supposed to do that amid the insanity of 2020?

As a practicing clinical psychologist and professor who studies how to manage anxiety and tolerate uncertainty, I offer 10 suggestions to make it through this highly stressful election period.

1. Put the phone down!

While it is tempting to stay glued to your devices during this time, the never-ending doomscrolling and screen-refreshing becomes overwhelming and keeps you in a state of tension and constant vigilance. The excessive consumption of news and social media predicts poorer long-term mental health during times of crisis.

Plan some breaks where you can engage in other activities that take your mind off politics and the uncertainties we face, and allow things to feel a little more normal for a while.

2. Uncertainty doesn’t equal catastrophe

It’s hard not to know things – outcomes of elections, for instance. But not knowing shouldn’t mean that you assume the worst-case scenario has occurred. When you’re anxious (as many in the U.S. are right now), you tend to assign threatening meanings to ambiguous situations, but this tendency is neither accurate nor helpful. Jumping to catastrophic conclusions is like setting off a series of false alarms that keep you on edge and exaggerate your sense of threat.

3. Don’t retreat into bed

The feeling of deep disappointment about election results you don’t like, or apprehension about upcoming results, can trigger a desire to withdraw and hole up. While that response is natural, it tends to be counterproductive. Staying engaged in activities that give you a sense of accomplishment, pleasure or meaning can make managing this time far less painful.

4. Remember it’s happened before

While in many ways it is true that 2020 is unique and unprecedented, it’s also the case that human beings tend to be remarkably resilient, even in the face of tremendous stress and trauma. This difficult time will not last forever. Things won’t magically all get better, but time will move forward, this situation will change and you will keep putting one foot in front of the other.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times Even video chatting can be a way to connect over a shared activity. Cavan Images/Cavan via Getty Images

5. Don’t go through this time alone

While the pandemic means you need to remain physically distant from others, this should not mean staying socially or emotionally distant. When people experience acute stress, they cope much better if they have social support.

So reach out and stay connected – whether that means texting about the latest vote count with a friend or purposefully taking a break from ruminating on current events (it’s a great chance to deeply discuss how you each feel about the new season of “The Mandalorian”).

6. Stay regular

No, I am not referring to your bowels – maintain a regular and healthy eating, sleep and exercise pattern. While recommendations for self-care may seem unimportant, attending to those basic bodily needs can go a long way toward keeping your resources sufficiently replenished so you can meet the high demands of this time. There is increasing evidence that poor sleep is closely connected to many mental and emotional health difficulties.

So stop refreshing your feed in the wee hours and try to sleep.

7. Help others

This may feel like an odd time to be asked to support others when you feel so depleted yourself, but helping others is linked to benefits in your own mental health.

Moreover, it provides a sense of control. There’s so much during this time that you cannot control – there is no magic wand that speeds up vote counting in those critical contested races or makes senate run-offs in January come sooner. But taking action to improve things now for the people around you both helps others and reminds you that you can make a difference in meaningful ways.

So, bake cookies to drop off on the doorstep of the friend who is quarantined. Offer to take an item off a work colleague’s overwhelming to-do list. If you’re in a position to help, make a donation to a cause you care about. It’s a win-win.

8. Take a breath

Each person is different in what helps them to relax or feel more centered. Focusing on and slowing down your breathing, for instance, can help keep you grounded in the present moment and reduce the spiral of upsetting thoughts about what might come next.

For many people, online mindfulness exercises or relaxation recordings can make a big difference. Check out online mental health programs that have been reviewed by experts and pick the resource that’s right for you.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times Cut some slack for yourself and others – this is a time when good enough is good enough. Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

9. Offer compassion to yourself

The combination of “COVID-19 brain” plus “election brain” (along with the pain and losses of the last eight months) means few of us will be at our best right now.

There’s a lot of room between performing at 100% of your usual capacity and climbing into bed and hiding under the covers for days on end. Personally, I’m trying to average 80%. People managing greater homeschooling, economic, health, discrimination and other challenges at this time than I am may shoot for a lower percentage.

No one is making it through this time unscathed, so kindness to ourselves and others is desperately needed.

10. Reach out if you need additional help

If recommendations 1-9 aren’t cutting it, there are lots of resources to help people through this difficult period:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • Find a therapist
  • Find culturally competent mental health care
  • Try an app focused on managing COVID-19 stressors, such as COVID Coach
  • Use my research team’s free intervention to reduce anxious thinking: MindTrails (part of an online study)

Be patient, stay calm and keep the faith is a tall order. I’ll be happy if I can get most of the way there.

How to keep calm and carry on during stressful times

Ripping your hair out on the daily is not a healthy way to live or work. Sure, pressure can get the best of us, but it’s important to keep our professionalism by keeping our cool.

I once had a client who was constantly frazzled with intense anxiety every time she even thought about work. It was not only affecting her productivity, but also her quality of life! We put a plan in place to help her feel in control again, and now she has a better idea of how to manage stress in the workplace.

Easier said than done, right?

So how do you stay calm when you’ve got a huge deadline approaching, a manager hovering over you, and 500 emails piled up in your inbox? First, take a deep breath. And then.

Eliminate stressful thoughts

The power of positive thinking is real. American philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” Believing this to be true, wouldn’t you want to focus on a positive thought instead of a negative one? Eliminating stressful thoughts is critical because they can build up over time, resulting in a meltdown or panic attack. Thoughts are known to repeat themselves, and it’s key to come up with a plan to combat them. Plus, ask yourself… What’s the worst thing that can happen? More often than not, the worst case scenario isn’t as horrific as you’re letting yourself feel.

Whenever a stressful thought enters your mind, consciously release it and replace it with a positive one. Change “I am going to freak out in front of everyone” to “I am going to rock this presentation” and notice which one feels better.

Avoid negative people

Do your best to avoid those that drain your energy and put out bad vibes. You know who I’m talking about… The doom and gloomers. They spread negativity like wildfire. You are in control of your thoughts and emotions, but it’s much harder to stay calm when you’re surrounded by anxious, cynical people. Do your best to keep your distance from pessimistic colleagues, especially before a big deadline.

Focus on one thing at a time

Once you are in a positive frame of mind, focus on the task at hand. Humans are terrible at multitasking, so managing your time and prioritizing is critical to productivity. Remember—if you slow down and get present, you can fully engage in each task, which often translates into higher performance (versus a bunch of unfinished, imperfect projects). It’s super easy to get distracted, so retrain your brain to respond based on a schedule rather than spontaneous cues, like a “ding” in your inbox. Silence phone and email notifications when you need to focus. (This means staying off social media, too!) University of California information scientist Gloria Mark found that it takes an average of 26 minutes to recover from trivial interruptions. Think about what you could do with those 26 minutes that you just lost.

Break big problems down into smaller chunks

Reduce feelings of overwhelm and the urge to procrastinate by taking large problems and breaking them down into smaller bits. For example, take a large project with a deadline and turn it into a large list of to-do’s. From there, schedule each “to-do” as a scheduled, micro-goal along your path to completion. When you’re able to address one part of the project at a time, you can come up with a solution more easily than trying to tackle the entire thing at once. This will keep you motivated to repeat the process and solve the next piece. Not only will the problem-solving process seem more manageable, you will feel way less anxious too.

It is entirely possible to keep a healthy head of hair and stay level-headed under pressure. You have the tools you need to keep calm and carry on, all the way to your next meeting.