Focus on what you can control

I don’t know about you, but I am fatigued from hearing about Coronavirus and it hasn’t even taken hold in New Zealand yet.

Every social media channel, almost every post, it’s there.

Almost every mailing list I’m on, it’s there (sorry to add another article about it, the irony is not lost on me!)

Every major sports league has been cancelled, every sports website has now become an update of which players have it and how that sport is handling it.

Every conversation with friends and family becomes updates and questions about how you’re preparing.

I don’t watch regular television or the news, but I think I’m making a safe bet to say it’s probably dominating there too.

You know this already, what I don’t want to do is add to the fear or hype, I don’t want to proclaim myself an expert and tell you what to do, or to give you tips on working from home or how great it is (although it totally is).

In fact I don’t even want to talk about it at all. I’ve been quieter than usual on social media recently because I don’t want to talk about it… I don’t know what’s going to happen and ultimately everyone needs to take the best approach for themselves.

All I can tell you is what I’ve noticed for myself and how I’m handling everything, mostly aimed at controlling my emotional state and keeping fear and anxiety at arm’s length, and maybe something that I’m doing might help you too.

Before all of this happened, for years I have made a big effort to control what I let into my mind. We are constantly bombarded with messages of fear, anxiety and lack… largely to encourage consumerism, gain viewers and earn clicks.

Some ways I combat this are:

  • I don’t watch television, haven’t for years. Instead for entertainment, I watch Netflix which means I can highly curate the shows, avoid news and ads.
  • I don’t listen to the radio. This means I can avoid news updates, the host’s opinions and ads. Instead, I have a premium version of Spotify and several of my own playlists, which I listen to every day with no ads. In the car, I listen to CD’s, Spotify or podcasts.
  • I use a Facebook newsfeed blocker. I just don’t post or read on Facebook, I learned long ago that it’s just not worth the time or mental space it costs. If I wasn’t in a couple of groups for work I’d delete my profile, still might happen.
  • I heavily curate my Twitter feed and partially curate my LinkedIn feed.
  • I use an ad-blocker browser extension, so I don’t see any ads on websites I visit.

The problem is, it’s not enough anymore.

What I’m starting to realise is this. Where I was previously looking at these social media websites and sports websites for short bursts every day and getting entertainment, connection or knowledge, they are now filled with fear and anxiety. And I already have a lot of barriers up to protect from this.

So what I’m going to do is substitute the form of entertainment that is no longer available in the places I was receiving it, with another form that cannot (or is highly more unlikely to) be compromised.

What this means for me is:

  • Facebook: once a day check-in for work (down from multiple).
  • Twitter: once a day check-in to keep updated on the latest important info only (down from multiple).
  • Will play LinkedIn by ear as it’s my favourite channel, but will probably spend less time than usual in the newsfeed.
  • No sports websites.

More of the following:

  • Reading fiction and true-story books.
  • Games of chess on my phone.
  • Walks on the beach with my dog.
  • What that would mean for you could be something completely different. Take a moment to think about it now – what could you swap out that puts you back in control of your own emotional state?

There’s so much of what is going on right now that we can’t control. We can’t control what’s happened or what’s going to happen in the world around us, but we can control what we allow into our world and into our head. Life can be stressful enough without letting in so much fear and anxiety everywhere you look.

If you do ever need someone to talk to in tough times… I’m a great listener and I’m here, email me any time.

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An SEO Consultant based in Mansfield Woodhouse, United Kingdom. I'm obsessed with SEO at the moment, but I also love talking about and interpreting marketing in general, productivity and entrepreneurship.

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