Articles | People

Channel Your Inner Sloth

Monday, 9 November 2020
By Karen Richter

Many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc around the world, over a million people have lost their lives and economies have been battered. Here in New Zealand we’ve fared better than most but according to many experts, levels of anxiety, stress and uncertainty remain very prevalent.

So, what can we do to navigate these uncertain times? 

The New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors couldn’t have anticipated the need to address this conversation with more clarity than they did at their recent conference themed ‘Rethinking Construction; Creating a fairer and sustainable future’, not only does this align with the Construction Accord but also our industry in taking charge and working towards a positive future. 

With the support of Winstone Wallboards Ltd, NZIQS hosted a talk by renowned Kiwi psychologist, Nigel Latta, here are his top tips for how to manage in times of uncertainty.


Don’t just look after your body – look after your brain too

We all have a fight or flight mechanism designed to protect us from harmful situations. But too much stress can over-activate our survival mechanism, impairing our health and making us feel out of whack. After periods of continued stress, the body loses its ability to rebound to bring itself back to balance and we become less able to deal with any curveballs thrown our way.

To help bring more balance into our lives Nigel suggests:

  • Whether you’re at work or at home, be mentally present – your head needs to be where your feet are.
  • If you need help, follow John Kirwan’s lead and go to your GP and ask for it.


Uncertainty is the new certainty
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty Covid has dished up, you’re not alone. The challenge is learning to live with it.

“It’s important to know that bad stuff happens regardless, but we are in charge and we can choose how we react to it.”

  • Channel your inner sloth – slow down, take a breath, don’t panic. Use the breath to focus the mind through ‘box breathing’: inhale for a count of five, hold for a count of five, exhale for a count of five, hold for a count of five. Repeat.
  • Keep regular track of how you’re feeling. And find out why you are feeling that way.
  • Distract your mind by doing something you enjoy – mow the lawns, walk the dog, repair something.


Flexibility – developing new strategies and ways of thinking

In the words of Albert Einstein – “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Nigel agrees. “The same old, same old won’t work anymore. We need new strategies, new ways of thinking and new ideas of how to deal with things.”

  • Nurture your organisational culture through teamwork, good communication, and ensuring team members feel safe to express their thoughts and ideas – the stronger the team, the better the psychological safety.
  • Develop your lateral thinking skills – learn to look at problems from different angles. Check out Edward de Bono’s book ‘The Use of Lateral Thinking’.

Thanks to NZIQS for addressing this important conversation and with the help of familiar, trusted and renowned presenter Nigel Latta providing its members with some practical and helpful tips.