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Keep faith in yourself – leaning in to challenging situations

When I found out last night that Auckland was heading into lockdown again, I felt anxiety creeping in…..I had just walked in the door after a super fun weekend with two girlfriends. My boys were chatting rapidly at me about everything they’d been doing, my husband was telling me he’d broken a plant pot whilst I’d been away, I was tired after a long drive…. I couldn’t really process the news and went immediately into ‘freeze’ mode – when it comes to dealing with intense situations, I am normally a fighter in the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mix, but last night there was too much going on at once, I went into overwhelm and started to feel panic.


After a short time, however, I recognised what was happening to me and knew this wasn’t going to serve me well. I was able to quickly talk myself into a new thought path…..I can’t do anything to change this situation but I can change the way I think about it, we’ve been here before and we dealt with it then so we can again. I needed to lean into it, make a new plan for the week, and then get on with it.


Having some sort of structure helps me deal with these lockdowns – not a strict timetable (that definitely does not work for our family!) but more of an agreed rhythm or flow to the day. Once I flipped my mindset, and also decided not to get sucked in to much of the ‘chatter’ online about it, I felt much calmer, more in control, and felt that I could make the week work, albeit with postponed meetings and reduced working hours.


Over the next few days as we deal with these increased restrictions, and whatever lies ahead, I’d encourage you to lean into the situation. By leaning in and consciously deciding where our energy goes, we can respond to the situation rather than reacting, and we can determine how the days pan out for us and our loved ones. I know we’re all facing different impacts, but keeping your stress levels as low as possible is critical to keeping yourself healthy and resilient. (And by the way, this can be applied to any challenging situation, not just lockdowns).



How do you lean into this? What does that mean?


Recognise when you are in a ‘fight, flight or freeze’ moment. You may experience these symptoms:

  • Body tightens

  • Heart beats faster

  • Breath becomes shallower and quicker

  • Mind feels clogged up and you can’t think clearly

  • Feel teary

  • Get aggressive and over-react to small things

Acknowledge where you’re at

  • To move forward you first have to accept the situation as your new reality. You can’t change it, it is what it is

  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling – it’s okay and normal to feel like you do

  • Then move on

Change state

  • When the anxiety grows, it can help to change what you’re physically doing – this may be doing some exercise, playing with the dog, reading a favourite novel – if you can, try to do something that makes you feel happy, even if it's only for 15 mins

Positive thinking and action

  • Even though right now it may seem too big a hill to climb, you will get there and it will be ok - keep the faith in yourself and your ability to deal with it

  • Switch up your language - so instead of this being a ‘nightmare’, start to describe it as ‘interesting’ and in other ways that put you in the position of power

  • Tough situations can help you grow, bring about new opportunities and can help you build confidence, so try to see how this may positively impact you

  • Focus on what you can do and can control, be creative with problem solving - and go grasp it with gusto


If you'd like support and guidance in creating a healthful environment for your body and mind to better cope with challenging times, contact me about personalised health coaching. sian@sianstimson.com

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