Without mentioning the current situation, it’s enough to say that life has thrown us all a curveball recently. So today’s post is especially for you if you’ve recently lost work, whether employed or self-employed, or are struggling with financial and life-changing problems.
The human response to what I’m calling ‘uninvited change’ (a very polite, British name for it) is to panic. But while this is completely natural, and entirely understandable – it’s also no help at all.
So I want to share a really simple 3 step strategy that we can all use at any time, no matter our present circumstances.
Step 1 – Ask someone outside of your family
Let’s take the example of job loss. The first person you are likely to speak to is your partner, and of course that’s perfectly natural. But don’t let them be the only person you speak to, and here’s why…
Your partner is also affected by your job loss, and so you are both likely to have that perfectly natural, human reaction of panic. Neither of you will be able to strategically plan your way out of trouble, in fact, group panic is the worst – you will feed off each other’s energy.
In order to be able to see your way out of this situation and find solutions to your problems, you need to talk it all through with somebody who isn’t so invested, and therefore won’t feed your panic.
Of course, I’d be remiss in my job as a coach if I didn’t suggest hiring one! But if you are dealing with joblessness then I understand this could be the worst time to think about spending money. In this case, I recommend contacting a friend who has a good head on their shoulders, and who will listen without judgment.
You want suggestions, ideas, advice and reassurance. But equally you don’t want someone who will push you hard in the direction that they think is best – so choose your friend wisely.
Step 2 – Don’t sit in ‘stress soup’
Without getting too scientific, there is a chemical cascade triggered by our brain when we are under stress. These nervous system signals trigger the release of cortisol, our stress hormone.
In normal amounts, cortisol regulates our body clocks and keeps us moving. But in persistently high amounts, it leads to a host of uncomfortable things. Raised blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and weight gain feature on this list of extra bad things that nobody ever needs in an already tough situation.
So when you are under stress, as much as your body might tell you to eat, sleep and curl up on the sofa, you need to fight that urge.
Sitting in that ‘stress soup’ of cortisol is really unhealthy, and feeling physically worse also affects your mental agility. In order to fight this off and let yourself think better and feel a bit more positive, it is really advisable to get outside and walk it off daily.
While a daily walk might not instantly equate to a new job offer appearing, or some other end to your troubles, it will actually help your mind to find the way forward.
Step 3 – Plot out your journey ahead
When faced with a complex problem, such as how to find a new source of income and pay the future bills, we tend to make the mistake of trying to plan it all out in our mind’s eye.
Do you ever find yourself sitting there, trying to see your way to a solution, then getting overwhelmed?
The human brain doesn’t actually have a huge amount of working memory capacity, and this is why we get overwhelmed. But what we do have is the ability to write, and if you’re anything like me, then you also have a deep love of notebooks and highlighters!
One of the smartest strategies you can employ with any problem, is to hash it all out with pen and paper.
Let’s say your big concern is getting through the next 6 months without missing any mortgage payments. Draw yourself out a 6 month plan, or use a calendar, and break down your essential steps to take each month. What do you need to bring in financially? What do you need to squirrel away?
When you can clearly see at a glance what you need to be doing, it is much easier to simply get on with things, rather than to get stuck in panic.
I hope this helps you to get some order and feel more grounded, even while the world is moving fast around us all. If you have any tips of your own that have worked for you, feel free to share in the comments. Let’s all support each other!