Our world is tentatively opening up again as we continue to manage COVID-19 and the consequences of our governments’ decisions and fellow residents’ actions. For some it’s a time of excitement and relief, and if that’s you, continue reading to help you understand those around you. If you’re feeling exhausted and a bit anxious, just know you’re not alone. The key to moving forward at just the right pace is understanding why you’re feeling the way you do. Awareness is always the first step to change for the better.

Firstly, acknowledge that you are unique and no one else in the world has experienced the past few months exactly the same as you. Similarities sure, but not identical, so there’s no point beating yourself up for not bouncing back like her or him. Whatever came before, bushfires, drought, domestic abuse, relationship, money, work or health issues have been amplified by the uncertainty, rapid changes, restrictions and fear generated by the COVID-19 global pandemic. If you were feeling anxious, frustrated or sad before, then it’s natural for you to be feeling that even more intensely now.

Stress from fear and stress from rapid unwanted change are exhausting. Most of us have been experiencing a combination of juggling working from home, rapidly learning new technology & systems, home schooling, sharing a working/living space 24/7, renegotiating housework responsibilities, being unable to work, so swamped by changes & pivoting business you don’t have enough hours in the day, or bored by your four walls, grieving for loss of contact with family members & friends, grieving for loved ones who have died, afraid of going to work risking potential exposure and more.  If you are feeling drained and a bit vulnerable that’s understandable! Be kind to yourself.

Extraverts, those who need others around to recharge, have been doing it tough confined, and will be first out the door, with the challenge to stay safe. Introverts, those who need to be alone to recharge, will have been okay unless you live with others who have been invading your space – you’ll be wanting to shove them out the door! You might be feeling reluctant to leave your sanctuary and battle public transport and office politics in person again. Take the time to acknowledge those feelings. If you just shove them away, they’ll pop up in bad dreams or wake you at 3 a.m.

In the business world there has been an exhaustive amount of hype about “pivoting” and push to do things differently, on top of the daily living pressures mentioned earlier. Email inboxes have been flooded with new “essential” courses to do. You may be experiencing decision fatigue and self-doubt as a result. Remember, as always, there’s no single right solution for every business. Some businesses are thriving, others needed a slight adjustment, still others a new product, service or even direction. Give yourself permission to take time to reflect and respond rather than react and regret.

So, what to do? Anxiety comes from your fear of not being able to cope with what the future could bring. Basically, you’re telling yourself scary stories – imagining disasters happening and yourself failing. If it is really already creating a serious problem for you daily, please seek expert help to clear it. Otherwise have a play with this exercise:

On a piece of A4 paper draw 4 columns. Label them: My Future, Problems, Actions, 1st step.

You might decide to choose just one area of your life to start e.g. career, relationship, health etc

My Future: List all that you’d love to have in your life moving forward into the next couple of years. Be optimistic yet realistic. E.g. Not “Billionaire married to a super-model.”

Problems: Your fears and concerns that could get in the way of you having what you want in your life. Whatever that critical or scared voice in your head throws at you.

Actions: Brainstorm all that you can do to avoid or control the consequences of the problems happening, including mindset coaching to shift how you think & feel about yourself.

1st Step: The first actions you can do right now to move you forward, protected or prepared for problems. Diarise and start doing these actions.

This period of time is the opportunity to let go of old ways and relationships that no longer serve you, so remember as you go through this exercise, you don’t have to automatically include all that was before. In fact, some of the anxiety you’ve been feeling could come from a dread of returning to old ways. You can design a fresh start for yourself, if you wish.  It’s your life, your choice. Always. Sometimes, when we are stressed, we can’t see all the options, and may feel like we don’t have a choice because we don’t like the limited choices our stressed brains throw up for us. That’s when an objective second or third perspective is invaluable.

Life is too short to waste feeling anxious. Give yourself permission to accept help to find a solution which allows you to feel as happy and fulfilled as you’d love. Despite what that inner voice might tell you, you deserve happiness too.