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“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Lou Holtz (Notre Dame football coach, 1986-1996)

Stay-at-home orders have created a new paradigm that many of us have not experienced before. We must work from home if possible, helping teach our children from online sources and practice social distancing so not to risk our lives or the lives of others by spreading this virus.

April is Stress Awareness Month, and what a month to talk about managing our stress.

Managing stress in the best of times is challenging, so what can we do in uncertain times? We are wondering how this pandemic is going to affect our businesses, our families and our communities. While I am not a psychologist or a medical doctor, I have gleaned a few informative tips on how to manage stress in uncertain times. I pass these tips on to managers who need help with the stress levels of their teams and also personal family and friends.

Here are some steps you may choose to take to deal with managing stress in uncertain times.

1. Focus your mind and feel productive. Have you heard the phrase, “Live in day-tight compartments?” This principle simply put is live “in” today. Stay busy with whatever tasks you need to accomplish this day. Focus on your job, stay busy in the kitchen, or work on a home project that you already have the supplies for or can order online — today.

2. Be informed, but don’t submerge yourself in the “bad” news all day. Choose one specific hour per day to allow yourself to catch up on the latest news, no more. Be careful with social networks, not all that you read is true; try to filter this information.

3. Relax your mind. Paint, listen to music, watch a nice movie or do some exercise. Allow your thoughts to dwell on good things to come.

4. Create happiness for others. Talk with the people you love. Find good news and share it. Is there a need that you have recognized that you could help fill through volunteering? When we reach out to help others, we feel less helpless ourselves.

5. Put enthusiasm into your day. We feel differently on any given day, but we must do the very best we can for the existing circumstances.

6. As a business owner, think about what you can do for your business. Opportunities will present themselves if you are looking.

7. Gratitude. Pray and thank God for being alive, breathing fresh air, and the homes that we have to shelter in.

If we can practice the above steps, we can pass our enthusiasm and positive attitudes on to those around us, whether family members or employees. We must do our best to keep what we can control, running effectively and efficiently.

Remember that this pandemic is temporary; it will pass. Do what you can to effectively manage the things that you can.

“Count your blessings — not your troubles.” Dale Carnegie

Heidi Shadel is a Cumberland business owner and graduate of Frostburg State University with a master’s in business administration. She believes in small business and the power that it holds in America’s economy, especially having a passion for helping small businesses succeed within the tri-state region.

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