The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the pressure on us, making many more people feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.

We can become irritated, tense, disinterested, affecting our performance and our ability to make sensible decisions.

How to manage these emotions, control anxiety and create conditions that enable the maintenance of productivity and high performance, so demanded when facing these times of crisis, in business and in personal life?

The first and main paradigm to be visited is that you are the only person who can do something about your emotions and direct them towards a result that adheres to your goals.

Starting from that point, we need to recognize our unique ability to exercise four gifts of human nature:

Consciousness, that is, the understanding or knowledge that allows human beings to experience or understand aspects or the totality of their inner world. Self-awareness, a logical characteristic of the consciousness of being. There is no consciousness without self-awareness.

Imagination, which, according to Philosophy, is the ability to combine images from experience in a new set, enabling the exploration of new future scenarios.

And finally, the independent will that allows us to exercise choice, regardless of external conditions.

From the exercise of these four gifts that only the human being has, we can create a space between a stimulus and the response, in order to exercise the freedom to choose the response that can best contribute to the achievement of the results we desire.

In the words of Viktor Frankl, “There is a gap between the stimulus and the response. In this space lies our power to choose our answer. Our response lies in our growth and our freedom. ” – The sense of life.

To create that space between anxiety (and other “pandemic” emotions) and choose responses that increase our performance and ability to perform, I separate three mechanisms that can be useful:

1. Memories

I’m passionate about diving! I practice this sport from 1987. I dived in several places in the world, always looking for sharks, because they are animals that I admire and respect.

When I notice that the level of anxiety and stress starts to increase, I do an exercise to rescue my memories of the thousands of dives I have already done.

Is there a pre-pandemic memory that you remember when you are feeling anxious?

What does this make you realize about your resilience?

What is this helping you to see about the future?

2. Focus on what matters

A source of anxiety and stress is the pressure to fulfill an avalanche of requests that often give us the feeling of being very busy, but it does not always reflect how productive and effective we are.

It is utopian to imagine that we can do everything and that we can meet all expectations and requests that come to us.

How to do it, then to stay focused on what is important to achieve the goals and results we want?

When a request arrives, ask myself: What quadrant does this task come from? (see Time Matrix, below)

If you come from Quadrant 1, you need to do something about it.

If you come from Quadrant 3, you can decide to say no or negotiate a better time to answer it with the person who requested it,.

Coming from Quadrant 4, the question is up to you and just exercise self-discipline to avoid succumbing to the escapes of those who live so stressed and waste time on trivial things.

The focus should be on Quadrant 2, the renewal and effectiveness quadrant. The more time you invest in Q2, the less you will fall into the traps of the other quadrants.


3. Connections

More and more, the demands of the present times demand a connection with ourselves and an investment of time and energy in self-knowledge. Only by understanding our values, priorities and purpose will it allow us to live in harmony with the legacy we want to leave and with the contributions we wish to make in the lives of the people we love and with society.

In addition, neuroscience has pointed out that maintaining our relationships and the feeling of belonging to a group allows for greater longevity, a less stressful and healthier life.

You have the ability to recognize stress and direct what it brings to achieve your goals, reaching levels of greater productivity and high performance.

Note: Chronic stress can cause serious health problems and, in extreme cases, death. Although the advice provided in this article can have a positive effect on reducing stress, it is only guidance, and you should seek advice from suitably qualified health professionals if you have any concerns about stress-related illnesses.