8 Tips for Keeping Up Morale, With Resources to Support You

Created: Thursday, May 7, 2020, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

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By Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

In business, we have to keep managing in the face of the threat posed by Covid-19. As lockdown continues, many of us, both business owners and employees, are feeling much more anxious than usual. It’s easy for this to become a downward cycle of worry, lethargy, and depression. The threat is real, and we can’t make it go away. What we can do is boost our resilience, finding ways to keep our spirits up.

Two principles are particularly useful. First, managing anxiety takes mental strength and energy, if we don’t actively recharge, we will become depleted. Secondly, the state of our morale affects the state of our immune system (At this point I have to say this doesn’t mean that anyone who becomes ill wasn’t positive enough!). So, if we pro-actively attend to our morale, we are also pro-actively attending to our health.

8 Tips for Keeping Up Morale
Image: Pickit

Let’s look at some ideas you can share in your business and encourage everyone to implement:

1. Pro-actively managing your news feed and other anxiety amplifiers

We are being offered 24-hour, worldwide updates. Following this minute-by-minute is not likely to do you any good. So, take positive control and limit your daily diet. You might choose to read rather than watch the news. One benefit of this is that there is less ‘emotional contagion’ from the written word than from a person’s voice, so less transmission of anxiety.

Keeping away from too much negative news will help you to replace anxiety with optimism.

2. Keep in touch with friends

Social contact is another thing that is very important to our wellbeing. This is something we are missing if we are working remotely. I am fortunate that I am marooned with dear beloved. Even so, I am resolved to talk on the phone to at least one person who isn’t him every day. You might want to talk about the situation, that’s fine. However, I would suggest you also ask them about their plans for the day, what they are hoping to achieve during this period of lockdown. In other words, try to help them see a silver lining relating to business and personal life. Ideally, you will both come away from the phone call feeling slightly better not even worse!

3. Count your blessings

The new science of positive psychology has proved the benefits of the old adage of counting your blessings. There is an exercise known as the ‘three good things’. At the end of each day, identify three good things that have happened during the day. It is good practice to write them down. Doing this regularly helps train your brain to look for the positives amongst the gloom, to find the silver linings, if you like.

For instance, perhaps you saw a report in the paper on the positive effect of the lockdown on wildlife. You can find lots of similar proven exercises in Vanessa Keys’s excellent book: 10 Keys to Happier Living. Based on science, written for everyone, it is full of ideas for boosting your mood.

4. Get into flow and out of yourself

Just ‘not thinking about it’ is hard, we need to find things that take us out of ourselves. When we are completely absorbed in things we are in a state of ‘flow’ and when we are in this state, we are not focused on our feelings. It’s like getting a holiday from your worried self.

For me, writing, gardening, and complicated cooking (or these days ‘creating from what we have got to hand’) all offer me productive escape time. Sometimes it’s hard to get yourself over the initial hump into the activity, but once you’ve started to apply yourself, time falls away.

Csikszentmihalyi’s classic book, Flow will explain more on this.

5. If you have to worry, have a worry half-hour

Some of us are born worriers; suggestions of optimism only increase anxiety. If you are someone who finds worrying reassuring, try to limit it so it doesn’t become overwhelming. A time-honored technique is ‘allowing’ yourself a specific allotted time to worry as much as you like. So, if you need to, spend a specified 15 or 30 minutes allowing yourself to name all your worries. Write them in a ‘dear diary’ if you like. Or arrange a strictly focused and time-limited phone call with another ‘worrywart’. And when your time is up, it’s up. Stop, close that box and move on with your day knowing you have another half-hour of worry time allocated tomorrow. Allocating this time and allowing yourself a good worry, should reduce the likelihood of doing your worrying in the small wee hours, which is the worst possible time to do it.

6. Exercise

Exercise is very important to both mental and physical health. You know the rules about keeping your distance. Put your face mask on and get out there and yomp for an hour somewhere green.

I’ve started doing a morning workout with my almost daughter, through the wonders of the internet. She has Jo Wicks ‘Seven days of sweat’ (and I can tell you, she didn’t tell me it was called that before we started!) on the computer her end, then we link up over face time and she instructs me. It’s exhausting, I puff and sweat. It’s social time and I get a great feel-good buzz afterward. The point is, I would never do it without her company.

7. Have projects to draw you forward

Starting projects suggests an optimism about the future that becomes self-reinforcing. Uncertainty can act to paralyze us. By pro-actively starting a project we can break out of that paralysis. The hardest part is getting started, but once you do it will draw you forward. Apart from rearranging the house, I’ve started a new tapestry kit. These take me a long time to complete. But every evening I can admire the couple of square inches I’ve completed and feel I’m making progress.

8. Practice Appreciative Living

This tip takes us almost full circle. Appreciative Living, which is based on Appreciative Inquiry, is all about seeing and seeking out the best of life. We can’t deny the reality of a worldwide threat to our whole way of life, but we can still appreciate the things that make life worth living, today. Developing an appreciative eye, especially in times such as these, takes practice and isn’t always easy, but the benefit to our health, well-being, state of mind, and ability to remain pro-active in the face of threat, in fact to our resilience, is beyond question. Keeping doing all the things you need to do to stay safe and start living appreciatively at the same time.

One way to explore this more is to look at a video from Jackie Kelm is the guru of Appreciative Living, which you’ll find on YouTube.

Keep taking care of yourself, support your staff, and encourage everyone to make use of the tips that work best for them.  This will be good for individuals and for your business.

Sarah Lewis
Sarah Lewis C.Psychol., is the principal psychologist at Appreciating Change, a strengths-based psychological consultancy that is committed to applying well-researched positive psychology ideas and interventions to workplace challenges and opportunities at an individual, team or whole organization level.

Sarah is an associated fellow of the British Psychological Society, a principal member of the Association of Business Psychologists, and a member of the International Positive Psychology Association. Sarah is an acknowledged Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Psychology expert, a regular conference presenter, and author of ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ (Wiley), Positive Psychology and Change (Wiley), ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’ (KoganPage) and Positive Psychology in Business (Pavilion). She also collects great positive psychology resources to support consultants, trainers, and coaches in their work which are sold through the Positive Psychology online shop.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post or content are those of the authors or the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

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