Stressed? Here’s a Wellness Check

Boom, a presidential transition. Bang, vaccine uncertainty. Crash, riots at the Capitol. We’re only two weeks into the new year, but many of us are probably already at our wit’s end. We at GovLoop understand. Thankfully, we have award-winning civic leadership coach and organizational strategist, Frieda Edgette, to guide us in helping manage the chaos through mindfulness.

Managing Your Emotions

In a recent GovLoop webinar, “Wellness Check: How to Create Moments of Mindfulness in Chaos,” the founder and principal of Novos Consulting and Courage to Run helped her audience name and assess their emotions. She asked them how they were doing and inquired which emotion they were experiencing at the moment. “The reason we name our emotions is so we can tame them and gain control,” said Edgette.

In a poll, roughly 68% said that they were “hanging in there,” as opposed to doing well or everything being great. Edgette addressed this by explaining humans cannot endure volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – abbreviated as VUCA – in excess.

“When we process VUCA for a long period of time, it wears on us,” Edgette warned. She told the audience that human brains can only absorb 42 pieces of information. When we have to process billions of details in a short period of time, we encounter immense stress.

“How do we gain control?” Edgette asked, “We practice mindfulness.”

Mindful Matters

Edgette encouraged the audience to share their emotions in an open chat. After govies expressed the hardships they faced, Edgette invited them to practice mindfulness with a few enlightening exercises.

First, she had everyone select one stressor. She gave them time to jot down everything they could not control about the particular stressor. Edgette then asked everyone to vocalize what they could control about the stressor and to share it in the chat. She even shared an example to demonstrate the way the audience could reorient their way of thinking. “We can’t control the thought that comes in and when it comes in, but we can control our response,” she said.

Edgette’s focus on what one could control helped the audience adopt a positive mindset. She told them to ask themselves the following three questions:

What do I know to be true?

What don’t I know to be true?

What do I need to know?

Taking Action

Research has shown that there are six virtues associated with growth: knowledgeability, courageousness, empathy & kindness, equity, humbleness, and appreciation. Edgette asked the audience to share the virtue they discovered they possessed after experiencing trauma.

“When we engage with a challenge, we often learn that we are stronger than we thought,” she said. She once again shared an example. “One of the outcomes of trauma is a greater appreciation for life.”

After everyone chose a virtue, Edgette had participants create a goal associated with their virtue. “One way to regain control is to take purposeful action,” she said. “What’s your goal? Make sure that it’s aligned with your virtue.”

In the end, Edgette advocated for audience members to practice meditation for 12 minutes at least three to five times a week to reduce stress and heal.

“There’s no list or scale of whether you’re worthy of pain or not.” Edgette empathized. “That’s the one thing that’s uniting us in America right now; it’s pain.”

Maintain your Peace of Mind

Overall, Edgette’s exercises, advice, and encouragement lifted the spirits of community members and reminded them that amid chaos, it’s okay to not be okay. However, we need to show ourselves appreciation and practice mindfulness.

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