Many agent resources have been focusing on financial aid and how do adapt while working from home.
But going from interacting with colleagues and clients on a daily basis to being isolated indefinitely and not knowing when business will rebound can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Here are some tools from CAMH to help cope during this time.
Dealing with problems in a structured way
All the issues you might need to address during this pandemic situation may feel overwhelming.
It can be useful to identify which things are actually problems that need to be solved or addressed, and which are just worries that are not necessarily grounded in reality. Here are some steps you can take to resolve issues that come up for you.
1. Take some time to identify what you feel are problems. As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, planning for self-isolation or quarantine might be something you identify. What concerns are causing you stress or anxiety?
2. Break each problem down into smaller parts, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed. Think about what parts of the issue are most immediate and urgent: what needs to be done now, what can be tackled tomorrow, and what can be delayed or even dropped completely because it doesn’t really matter in the long run.
3. Brainstorm some options that can help address the problem. List all possible options.
4. Identify the pros and cons of each option.
5. Narrow down to the best option you have.
6. Put the solution into practice and see how it goes. Did it solve the problem? Did it help a bit? Do you need to adjust the solution or consider another solution from your list?
7. Ask others how they see your “problem”? If they agree that it is a real problem, ask for feedback on your solution.
8. Consider writing things down—putting this process down on paper. You can cross off tasks as you do them. This can help you feel you are getting things resolved and can combat feelings of helplessness.
9. If you may need to plan for self-isolation or quarantine, do so ahead of time. Here are some resources that may be helpful: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Conference Board of Canada.
Challenging worries and anxious thoughts
High levels of anxiety and stress are usually fuelled by the way we think. For example, you might be having thoughts such as “I am going to die” or “There is nothing I can do” or “I won’t be able to cope.” These thoughts can be so strong that you believe them to be true.
However, not all our thoughts are facts; many are simply beliefs that we hold. Sometimes we have held these beliefs for so long that they feel like facts. How do we know if our thoughts are true or are just beliefs we’ve grown used to? Here are some ways to work through and challenge your worries and anxious thoughts.
Start with catching your thoughts. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, stop and write down what you are thinking. There may be more than one thought going through your mind when you are feeling anxious. (Hint: Your thought might sound something like “What if …” or “I’m worried that … .”
Once you have identified a thoughts, challenge it. Ask yourself:
- Is this thought true?
- How do I know it’s true?
- Is it 100% true and always true?
- What is the evidence for the thought?
- What is the evidence against the thought?
- Has the thing I’m worried about ever happened before?
- What actually happened?
- How did I cope? What was the end result?
If you find it hard to let go of worrying, ask yourself, “What does worrying do for me? Is worrying actually helping me solve a problem or is it keeping me stuck and feeling anxious?”
Ask yourself how helpful it is to keep thinking this way?
After working through these approaches, see if you can come up with a more balanced thought. For example, “I am elderly, and so many older people are getting extremely ill. I could die from this” could be replaced with “I am elderly, but I am also taking all of the recommended precautions, I have a good support network, and I am taking steps to stay healthy. I am extremely likely to get through this and be fine.
For more information on managing stress and anxiety related to COVID-19, please visit www.camh.ca/covid19.