I got a phone call from one of my best friends the other day at 10 pm. She cried over the phone, “Am I a bad mother? What can I do?”
Through the phone, I could hear the kids screaming in the background.
I understood what she was talking about. She’s been working from home for weeks while trying to be a good teacher for her two boys, one is 3 years old, and the other is 10.
She is always a star in college and also in her workplace. She is a senior manager in a fortune 500, leading a big sales team. She’s never fallen apart at work, even though in her industry, she is competing with male sales, who are usually much older than her, with more working experience.
I know how she made it. She works hard. She is good at time management. She sets high goals.
She even read a lot about how to deal with the kids working from home. She took notes and shared her confidence with me.
But now, she collapsed.
She is always perfect. Now she feels that she is not.
Not only the working-from-home parents have that feeling.
Many of my friends become self-doubted after days of lockdown:
- They are mad at losing motivation and life goals.
- They are worried that their colleagues will have better performance, well, without seeing all the colleagues, they have a good imagination.
- They are worried that their competitors would steal their clients.
- They are worried that their subordinates will not respect them anymore, so they send tons of messages or emails to “control” their subordinates.
- For to-be-graduate this year, they are worried about finding a job.
And also, as said at the beginning, the working-from-home parents. “If I can’t be a good parent if I can’t handle a kid, how can I handle a team or a business?”
How to deal with self-doubt and stress?
I understand it is difficult. I have gone through all the similar things before.
Below are the steps I suggest to my friends to take. They are from my experience and my study on the topic. I also tested some of them recently as, to be honest, this pandemic brought me the stress sometimes as well. I am glad they still worked.
So I hope they can help you.
1. The first thing you need to know is, you are not alone.
Take working from home, for example. Do you know that working from home is stressful, always, for many people, not only in this pandemic?
Sounds strange, right? As most of us consider a work-from-home lifestyle to be less stressful and have more personal freedom.
However, according to one study conducted by the United States, “41 percent of ‘highly mobile’ employees (those who more often worked from home) considered themselves highly stressed as well, compared to only 25 percent of those who worked only on-site.”
The habit of regularly checking one’s phone, lacking control, social isolation, are all the possible reasons.
And even some big names share the same pressure.
I sent my friend that news that even Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau seems struggling with working from home with his children.
Well, she laughed and felt better.
2. Start from tiny things
For my friend, I suggest her to get up 15 minutes earlier for three consecutive days, and use the 15 minutes to complete tiny things, like lining up the bowls on the shelf, doing the laundry, packing up clothes, and tidying up toys.
The disorder leads to stress and anxiety, as it is sending the signal of danger to us.
Do even tiny things to smooth the disorder.
Are you feeling better after you finish the first two steps? Now let’s move on to the mindset part.
3. Treat the accident as your choice on your plan.
For parents, while some experts suggest separating being a good employee and being a good parent apart, I strongly recommend you try to treat your children as colleagues.
Why? Because if you let your focus jump from one thing to another, you will have a fractured and probably unproductive day.
So when you are planning your meetings, treat them as people in your team with no help. You may know how to deal with people like that, right?
You will become to focus on how to do your job better only. You don’t need to swift between employee code and parent code.
Remember my friend? She took my advice and treated her boys as her bothering teammates.
She observed how they behaved, and she found that the boys would like to do things by themselves and always compete with each other.
So she created a separate “project area” for them, and the boys could playing their toys in the project area.
She even made an award list on the wall. Once the boys finish a project, like building the blocks, she draws a small flagship on the list.
“That’s what I did before to motive and manage my salespeople.” She told me.
For people whose original plans are disturbed by the pandemic, say finding a job, treat it as your own choice.
Focus on the positives.
Tell yourself that it is your choice to have gap months to accumulate more skills for a better job. It’s your choice to leave that bad working environment, your lousy boss, maybe, to pursue what you want.
Now you finally have the opportunity.
You choose it, and you will handle it well.
Now move on. Let’s get better prepared.
4. Never forget about self-care.
Mark it out in your daily plan. Take it seriously.
A fresh look and a healthy body in the lockdown will motivate you.
Every morning, smile into the mirror, take a deep breath and say good morning to yourself.
How grateful is it, right? You are still alive.
Every night, before you go to bed, say well done to yourself.
Also, avoid using your mobiles late at night. Protect your sleep.
5. Build up a good partnership with your families or neighbors
You forgot about it, right? However, it is so vital to have support from people living around or closely to us now in the crisis.
For your families, like your husband or wife, talk with them, and share the family responsibilities with them.
Moreover, keep the romance alive in the pandemic. Little hugs and kisses work through the busy days, especially when you are battling together with your children.
For your neighbors, it may be helpful if you take turns to buy food from the supermarkets.
That is a tip from one of my friends who lives alone. She said she feels better whenever she delivers the food to her neighbors.
One of my friends who will graduate from his college this year even got mock-interview guidance through phone calls from his neighbor.
6. Review your priorities and basic needs.
In the lockdown, the opportunities for going outside are limited. And we may also be under financial pressure. It helps if we know clearly what we need and what we need to do.
Review your basic needs and create a budget so that you will gain a better sense of control over your financial situation.
Think through the worst situation and figure out how to deal with it.
That makes you better prepared, focused, and released.
7. Make a to-do-list
After the above 6 steps, I believe you have a more positive mindset, a better environment, and a clearer mind of what you are going to do.
Now fill out the to-do-list of everything that jumps into your mind, and finish them one by one.
Keeping yourself busy helps.
- What is the goal of your work this week? Any new ideas to improve the virtual conference?
- What are your suggestions to your boss for the product launch to beat your competitors in the market? They haven’t taken quick actions to the changing environment, but you have, right?
- What are the abilities that you are most proud of in the past working experience? Can you modify your resume to show those abilities?
- Who is working in the company that you want to work in? Have you talked with each other before? Who will help introduce you to that guy?
- How about a good dinner tonight?
You don’t need to make the to-do-list scientifically. The point here is to make you focus on things that you can take actions right away, so your brain will have no room for the things you can’t control.
Losing control is one of the key reasons why we feel anxious and stressed.
Take it back.
And now you are back on the right track!
Stress is your choice. You can put it in the feelings of failure, poor confidence, and losing power, or you can put it in the actions that you take quickly to make you feel better.
“It’s not stress that kills us. It is our reaction to it.”
– Hans Selye
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