How to keep cool, calm, collected and in complete control – by Ruth Fogg

Cool, calm, collected and in complete control? When did you last feel like that? 

When we feel in control our stress levels reduce. Panic, fear and negative behaviour patterns trigger the stress response which weakens our immune system and can quickly slide into depressive thoughts and feelings. 

Think back over the past twelve months of the pandemic and decide what is within your circle of control and what isn’t. Let’s look back 12 months and use the Change Curve (Kubler Ross Change model)

  1. Disorientation and sense of unreality
  2. Denial – this can’t be real! 
  3. Frustration, Anger and Panic – How can I cope with homeschooling and run a business?
  4. Uncertainty and Blame – can I go out? Will I catch it? 
  5. Confusion and Depression – isolation, doubts and fear set in, with no end in sight
  6. Acceptance – It’s out of my control.
  7. Moving Forward – back in the driving seat 

Stages 1-5 are interchangeable and can last quite a while until our minds reach acceptance, then we can move forward, having taken back our control.

Reflect on how you have changed and what has changed in your life over the last twelve months. Enforced change is much harder than change by choice. Look how you have adapted and how resilient you have actually been!

We are ALL going through a process, and even though we may move up and down the curve, we are all heading towards a “new normal” at the top of the curve with some light at the end of the tunnel. With the vaccine giving us hope and the prospect of taking back control of our lives and our businesses.

Check out how your attitudes, beliefs and values may have changed – for better or worse?

Being self-employed gives you more control than perhaps you have realised – imagine being furloughed and at a total loose end, not knowing if you will have any income or a job to go back to.

So, how can you stay calm, collected and in control? There are loads of stress tips online which tell you to get enough sleep, exercise and eat well but we know all that anyway so what are the key things to stay feeling in control? 

Have a look at the tips below but in addition: 

  1. Having a sense of purpose each day is crucial – if you have no purpose, then there is no incentive to get out of bed. Having structure in your day is usually determined by your daily rituals but as these have changed, we have to be more self-disciplined and have daily goals or targets . This can be simply planning your meals, contacting a couple of clients or friends or working on your business.
  2. Do a SWOT analysis – an assessment of where your business is at. What training opportunities can you undertake whilst you have extra time on your hands?
  3. Do the rocking chair test – look back and think of the things you could have done during lockdown to improve your business but didn’t. Can you rectify this before we get back to some normality?  This again will give you a focus.
  4. If you are struggling with homeschooling, balancing parenthood with running a business AND staying calm with your partner then it can be quite challenging, so make sure you have some “Me “ time – read a book, have a soak, do an online class, whatever relaxes you.
  5. Separate the Being from the Behaviour in your mind. You love your family but not their behaviour when the bickering starts! There is a difference, and this can help you choose your response to them when you are at your wits’ end.
  6. Think back once more but this time acknowledge your achievements over the last year. Write them down and feel really good – share them with someone, and celebrate!
  7. Consider an accountability buddy to share how you feel and your business targets. You may be good at letting yourself down but are less likely to let others down.  Have a moaning Monday or whinging Wednesday to get “stuff” out of your system.
  8. Attitude of Gratitude (Do Siobhan’s course!) Don’t just THINK IT – INK IT! Count your blessings. Write down what you are grateful for and put it somewhere where you will see it as a reminder every day.
  9. Play some dance music and have a mad half hour – kids love this as well!
  10. When you are outside really look at the sky, the daffs, snowdrops and buds – and appreciate the wonders of nature.
  11. EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing 
  • Think about what is bothering you and if you can, score on a scale of 1-10 (10=High) or just use for relaxation
  • Keep your head still and follow the top of a door, window, TV screen (anything approx. 1 metre wide) 
  • Move your eyes from one side to the other in a straight line and back again, 24 times (there and back is one movement)
  • Take a deep breath and reassess your score.

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Ruth Fogg


About Ruth Fogg

Ruth Fogg from Stressworx is a therapist, trainer, speaker and published author. She specialises in providing practical skills and solutions to understand and manage stress in both personal and professional situations. She is a Fellow of The International Stress Management Association.