If there’s one thing many of us are struggling with during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s feeling out of control.
In the 21st century, we have the power to control every detail of our lives – we can eat whatever we want, go wherever we please and shop at any time of the day. We’re used to having endless choices.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken many of these choices away. For the first time in many of our lives, we’re unable to go wherever we want and live our lives as we please due to the current lockdown restrictions.
Add to this the fact that many people are now facing widespread uncertainty – whether that’s because of family bereavement, financial issues or relationship strain – and it’s not surprising that people across the world are experiencing rising levels of stress and anxiety.
Here at Stylist.co.uk, we’ve looked at plenty of different coping methods and expert tips for dealing with stress and anxiety over the last couple of months. From using mindfulness meditation to practising deep breathing or self-care, we’re always looking for new ways to manage our stress levels or reduce anxiety.
So it’s safe to say we were intrigued when we heard that asking ourselves four simple questions could help to relieve stress and make us feel more in control – especially at a time when everything feels so out of our hands.
“As the lockdown continues and our worries heighten, it’s important to ensure we’re not inadvertently creating greater stress than we’re already feeling,” explains Chris Shambrook, psychological consultant and human performance director at PlanetK2.
“We are all facing a novel situation. As a result we’ll all be feeling stretched as we adapt to our ‘new normal’ as best as possible. We are facing multiple uncertainties; how to tackle the virus itself, how to ensure job security, how to manage lockdown on a professional and personal level. The list goes on.”
He continues: “Given the uncertainties we are all inevitably feeling, it is wise to accept that we will all be feeling more stress than normal, which is why we need to make sure we take steps to stop the stress building up.”
For Shambrook, the first step in reducing stress is accepting that we’re actually experiencing stress (and trying to understand where that stress is coming from) and working out how that stress is affecting us, whether that’s physically, mentally or both.
Then, he says, we can check whether we’re asking ourselves the right questions – and reshape our thoughts to help ourselves reduce stress and feel more in control.
“In Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks asks Mark Rylance if he ever worries, to which he replies, ‘Would it help?’. This is a great example of asking the right questions to manage stress,” Shambrook explains. “It’s easier said than done, but a very simple exercise that’s worth tuning in to.”
How to relieve stress and feel in control using 4 simple questions
“Are the questions you ask yourself helping or hindering on the stress front?” Shambrook says. “Asking yourself the right questions i.e. helpful questions, can have a huge impact on stress levels, positivity, confidence and control.”
Instead of asking yourself unhelpful questions like these:
- “Why can’t this just all be over?”
- “Why did this have to happen now?”
- “Why am I letting this get to me so much?”
- “How come other people seem to be coping better than me?”
Try asking yourself the following helpful questions:
- “What can I do today that will help me look after myself?”
- “What facts can I find out that will help me worry less?”
- “Who can I talk to who I trust will give me a helpful perspective?”
- “Are the things I’m worrying about helping me to feel more in control?”
Coping with stress and anxiety
If you’re dealing with feelings of stress and worry during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to understand that this is a completely normal response to the current situation. However, if you’re looking for a way to alleviate some of those feelings, here’s three more articles that might help.
- How to regain a sense of control when everything feels so uncertain
- Everything you need to know about seeking mental health support during the coronavirus pandemic
- The one word a cognitive therapist says could ease your coronavirus anxiety