You Know the Physical Habits to Stay Healthy—Here Are the Psychological Habits to Stay Focused

Neuroscience can help us maintain focus during times of crisis.

Authored by

NLI Staff
This crisis' effects are physical and psychological. Here are the everyday psychological habits to keep your mind healthy and stay productive.

When was the last time you heard any one of the following: “Wash your hands,” “Maintain social distancing,” or “Limit travel and interactions”?

Most likely, you’ve encountered that advice at least once already today. Public health habits are important to keep ourselves and those around us safe. And they’re paying off, by flattening the curve and saving lives.

But this crisis is taking more than a physical toll; its effects are psychological too. Employees around the world are coping with increased uncertainty, stress, and isolation, and it’s affecting their work.

Here are some everyday psychological habits you can practice to keep your mind healthy and stay productive.

Create personal buffers for yourself

The coronavirus pandemic is causing tremendous uncertainty and isolation, both of which create the breeding grounds for stress. Luckily, there are strategies to increase your sense of certainty and connection, thereby mitigating stress, and helping you to think more rationally and creatively. We call them personal buffers.

Buffers are intentional actions you take that reduce the chance of increasing your threat level. For instance, creating a daily routine can bolster your sense of certainty and autonomy. Virtual happy hours can increase your sense of relatedness.

It’s important to employ buffers to mitigate stress—and keep the right mindset for effective decision-making.

Send positive social signals to your team

We may not be able to physically reach out to our team members right now, but one way to help them stay engaged is to send positive social signals. Social signals are the actions you take to help other people feel less threatened in their day-to-day work.

For example, people’s sense of status is extremely fragile during a crisis, as they worry about their livelihood and viability within the team. You can boost people’s sense of status through celebrating daily wins and progress. You can also boost people’s sense of fairness through policies that give parents of young children a bit more flexibility in how they schedule meetings.

Deliver what matters

While many employees work odd, extended, or reduced hours, it’s important to deliver what matters during this period of disruption. Accounting for your and your team’s cognitive capacity can help you make the most out of the time and resources available.

Implementing “speedy meetings,” practicing optimal inclusion, and leveraging technology to its fullest potential can also help us work more efficiently and get more done with less.

Keeping yourself in the right frame of mind in these ways can go a long way in keeping yourself productive, your team collaborative, and your business adaptive.

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