The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world into chaos. Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with news of doom and gloom:
- X number of people tested positive for Coronavirus
- So-and-so city under lockdown until such-and-such date
- ABC country has closed its borders to arrest the spread of the virus
If you are a working professional and going crazy due to forced isolation, you may be experiencing feelings of hopelessness, fear and even panic.
You may be easily distracted from work.
You may be worried about the future.
Your mind may be trapped in a pattern of negative thinking that makes you feel more hopeless and anxious by the minute.
You are not alone – even if you’re isolated.
In the face of this crisis, such emotions are completely normal.
However, we should try to improve our mental state as much as we can. And the only way to do this is to become more resilient.
What is resilience?
Resilience is the human capacity to face difficulties and successfully recover from them. It is our ability to take control of our own thoughts, reactions and emotions, and ‘unhook’ from the ones that are unproductive or that distress us.
When we are resilient, we are able to face crises (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) and still maintain a positive frame of mind. Of course this does not mean that we ignore what’s happening or become careless. It simply means that we understand the problem, and are able to deal with it and choose our reaction to its effects.
Do you believe that you are not a resilient person and can never be? Think again!
Resilience is a skill that can be developed.
Everyone can train themselves to be more resilient and nurture their resilience.
This includes YOU.
Here are 3 effective strategies to help you develop and nurture resilience so you can face any crisis without fear or anxiety:
#1: Reach for calmness
Have you noticed that when a negative thought occurs to you, it is usually followed by another…then another…then yet another..and so on? This becomes a vicious, never-ending cycle that can drive you crazy. That’s why you need to address the problem right at the beginning and nip it in the bud. Mindful meditation is a great way to do this.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully ‘present’ in the current moment without reacting to it or becoming overwhelmed by what’s happening around us or what we’re experiencing, whether it’s good or bad.
To practice mindful meditation:
- Find a quiet spot and carve out some time out of your schedule. Even 10 minutes a day can work wonders on your mindset
- Set a timer, close your eyes and breathe deeply
- Observe your thoughts without focusing on them. Let them simply come and go
- When you find your mind starting to turn towards doomsday scenarios, think about something positive – a person you like, a pleasant experience from the past, something exciting you have planned for the future, etc
Also read: Mindfulness & Leadership: Strategies to be an Effective Leader through Mindfulness
Mindful meditation can help you calm down, look at unfavourable situations in more optimistic ways and break the cycle of negativity. Regular practice will help you refocus your mind, increase your capacity to cope with adversity and build your resilience ‘muscle’ over time.
#2: Practice being ‘unbusy’
Often, it feels better to stay busy, doing one thing after another to distract ourselves, if we’re struggling to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Instead of dealing with our emotions, we try our best to ignore them. While this ‘ignore it and it will eventually go away’ strategy may work in the short term, it is not the best way to develop resilience for the long term.
To give your mind the space to unhook from the swirl of bad news, try quiet reflection. Instead of overwhelming your mind and body with a flurry of activity, spend more time ‘unbusying’ yourself.
Sit quietly in a corner of your home with your pet.
Look out the window and enjoy the sight of a pollution-free, uncongested city.
Call a friend and exchange bad jokes.
In doing so, you will be able to find clearer answers about how best to move forward, both with the crisis and with your reaction to it.
#3: Connect with others
The entire world is reeling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. But when we’re trying to deal with our own emotional challenges, we don’t realise that others may be going through the same painful experiences and emotions as us. We forget that our vulnerability is not isolated, but shared.
Yes, experts are asking us to practice ‘social distancing’. But this does not mean that we cut ourselves off from others entirely. Find a community of like-minded souls and develop meaningful connections with them. Talk about your fears. Give others a listening ear. Be compassionate to others – and to yourself. If you live with people who are especially vulnerable to the virus – elders or children – be there for them. They’re probably even more scared than you.
When you change your focus from your own fears to helping others, you will see new possibilities for yourself and others that are rich with hope for the future. You will also become mentally stronger. And isn’t that the goal of resilience?
Resilience is a gift that keeps on giving. And it is a gift for everyone.
Now, do you want to keep feeling miserable in the midst of this crisis?
Or do you want to come through the experience as a stronger, more resilient person?
The choice is entirely YOURS. COVID-19 is the enemy and ‘social distancing’ is the world’s weapon of choice. But we don’t advocate cutting yourself off from everyone. Tell us how we can help you deal with this crisis. Do such articles help? Would you like to see more? Leave a comment below; let us know. Stay home, stay safe.
Lion Amir Virani