Speaking during the WEFF online session, Aran Dadswell, director, learning and organisational development at Sionic, explained it was common for people to feel a loss of control caused by the uncertainty and restrictions of the pandemic.
She said for many this created a feeling of being under threat which triggered a flight or fight response, hindering a person’s ability to function normally.
“Cognitive impairment is caused by a threat response and impacts memorising, deciding, understanding and recalling capabilities,” she added.
Dadswell said recognising the emotions experienced and regulating them could be beneficial in coping with the threat felt and help people to refocus themselves.
“It’s not about suppressing emotions but what we do with them once they arrive; suppressed emotions only get stronger.”
Dadswell also emphasised it was important to understand the emotions other family members, particularly children were going through.
She explained that realising children were likely to react differently due to their emotional development and potentially “flip their lid” was key in knowing how to live with them and handle situations.
Dadswell listed four steps which could help to regulate emotions; labelling, venting, reappraising and savouring.
Labelling is describing the emotion in one or two words, she said, while venting is the act of speaking about that emotion and its backstory.
“Venting is an important emotion regulation tool if you activate the awareness of what you’re doing and realise you’re venting,” Dadswell said.
Reappraising is the act of looking at the emotion experienced from a different perspective to allow for objectivity and a re-evaluation of an event.
Dadswell suggested either using a “helicopter technique” to look down at the situation outside of oneself or using something such as humour to take a different view on it.
Savouring is thinking of a loved one to evoke a positive response and counter the negative emotion felt.
You can’t escape yourself
She also said other approaches such as mindfulness and setting an alarm to allocate 40 minutes to an hour to a task could help with refocusing the mind during times of stress.
Dadswell said: “You can’t escape from yourself. If you can’t be the best version of yourself in the situation then everything else will suffer.
She added: “It’s important now to be selfish and put your own oxygen mask on to do what impacts you and also the people around you.
“Having a strong [mental] core helps the universe around you.”