No matter which sector you’re in, you’re probably experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety at work due to the coronavirus pandemic. After all, managing coronavirus anxiety is a challenge to nearly everyone across the globe right now.
For some people with disabilities, this new anxiety may simply be adding to the chronic anxiety they live with on a regular basis. Or they may be feeling particularly nervous about the ways in which this pandemic could impact them due to a health condition.
Maybe that’s you, or maybe it’s not. Either way, there’s a good chance that it’s someone on your team.
After all, one in four adults in the U.S. has a disability. Employees aren’t required to disclose their conditions to their employers, but it’s safe to assume that most teams in the workplace include at least one person with a disability.
Helping your team to manage stress and anxiety is an inclusive practice at any time. Here are a few tools and ideas for you to use and share with your team.
1. “Box breathing” can help with managing coronavirus anxiety, maintaining focus on work
Here’s a quick breathing exercise that can physically reduce your stress levels, according to Healthline.
“Box breathing” is a simple trick to help calm your nervous system. Healthline describes the many benefits and offers beginner tips.
Box breathing isn’t complicated, and it can be done from anywhere. According to Inc., U.S. Navy SEAL Mark Divine learned the trick during SEAL training. He says he uses it “while standing in line, while I’m stuck in traffic, and wherever else I can.”
2. A browsing tool can put the headlines on pause
The news is changing by the minute. While keeping up with it right now can feel important — and even necessary — it can also be intensely anxiety-provoking.
Mindful Browsing is a free app that can put an automatic barrier in front of any websites you choose. It won’t prevent you from checking the headlines — you can still choose to click through. But it will stop you with a prompt that you can customize. For example: “You said you’d rather take five deep breaths.”
If this particular app doesn’t work for you, there are lots of free site-blocking apps available. Forcing yourself to disconnect from any news that’s not needed for practical purposes can go a long way toward relieving anxiety.
3. A Slack add-on can build social connections remotely
Right now, lots of workplaces are operating remotely. For some employees with disabilities, remote work is a fact of life — or an accommodation that’s often been unreasonably hard to get.
But for other employees with disabilities, remote work can introduce additional stress. And social isolation can compound anxiety for many people.
Donut is an app that can help remote team members get to know each other. If your company uses Slack, you can add Donut to have it set up opportunities for remote socialization.
4. Comedy can always reduce anxiety
- Find some new comedians: The Invisible Disabilities Comedy Show is a stand-up comedy show for comedians with disabilities. They’re on hiatus due to the coronavirus, but they’ve got a list of previous comedians for you to explore.
- Calming tips for remote workers: Evelyn Ngugi, aka “Evelyn From the Internets,” is a humor writer and YouTuber who works from home. Evelyn offers tips like her 7-Step Reset Routine, which helps her get back on track when she’s feeling overwhelmed.
Right now is an anxious time for most people, whether they’re managers or employees. And many people with disabilities are feeling especially anxious as the coronavirus situation unfolds.
It’s a good time to be mindful of the anxiety of the people we’re working with, whether they let you know about it or not. Sharing some tips to reduce anxiety can be a way to show inclusivity during a stressful time.
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About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.