Creating mental resilience despite the pandemic
The last two years have tested our patience, resilience, maybe even our sanity. For many of us, the constant uncertainty started to affect our mental state, some more than others. Some of the consequences of lockdowns cost us our personal freedom, our social lives, our dating lives, and for others, being in the same living space with partners or children made it even harder on our emotional health. Two years later, some things have gotten better, some things have stayed the same, and in some places, it's even gotten worse.
In fact, the current situation is not only changing our lifestyle, but also our institutions and companies and in a word, our society. This adaptation is absolutely not easy, it's testing our ability to adjust and, in short, to evolve, despite the circumstances. We have seen that certain services are not something we can take for granted, that hospital congestion is a big problem, and many of us have felt bewilderment and fear. The passing of time has changed (some of us have realized we have a lot more of it while others are finding it hard to balance work and life at home). Sometimes with excess. For many people, Coronavirus has possibly been the biggest disruptive event of our times.
The good news is that the only thing we really have charge of is our mindset and how it affects the outcomes of our lives and what we do with it. Yes, it's 100% true that we can't always control the world and we certainly can’t change the outcomes of the pandemic and its effects on us. But we can also decide to use some our mental resources, using various tools to build our mental resilience to control the way we deal with situations.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them - Maya Angelou
1. Learn Meditation
Meditation is an extremely powerful modality that allows us to intimately connect with ourselves and regenerate our energy to either maintain our emotional health or create acceptance in situations. And it helps to silence the mind that perhaps in this period only provides you with hints of fear and negativity. Think positive, do what you can, take the time to move forward in the areas that you can and have hope that things will get better.
It's really easy to fall into the trap of assuming that things will get worse, and as is the case with pessimists, this creates very little prospect of constructive change in the future and keeps us stuck feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and upset.
If, on the other hand, you can try to create a more optimistic way of thinking, if you recognize and accept that everything changes, inside and outside your control, and that just as there are negative, dark, sad aspects of life, there can also be just as many happy, bright, positive ones, especially in finding gratitude in little things. This small part of meditation and visualization can open the doors of existential improvement. In fact, optimism, gratitude, and hope can be the main factors that fuel resilience.
Optimism is a way of thinking that is also based on realism that things don't have to be as bad as they seem, which does not see everything as pink, but also accepts limits, hardships, challenges to face, but also does so from the perspective of opportunities, personal growth, and lessons to be learned. Optimism in this sense can be cultivated as it is a change of perspective, analysis and interpretation of reality that, if we wish, we can still accomplish things if we're willing to adjust and go with the flow instead of fighting against it.
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.”
― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
2. Dedicate your free time to passions & learning
Don't spend all your time wasting it on temporary things that are only entertainment. Fun fades fast and then you need to replace it quickly with something else. Turn off Netflix, your social media, and stop playing hours of video games. Those aren't hobbies; they're entertainment and don't provide any long term gratification.
"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."
— Julia Child
Sometimes, when things aren't going very well, simply doing something that we enjoy and are passionate about, that identifies us or defines us is a way to channel stress and bring out our resilience. Catch up on these activities or start new ones, especially if you are feeling discouraged or sad. If you're stuck at home, look for activities or hobbies that can provide fulfillment. Take time to start learning a language, learn to play an instrument, learn yoga, grow some plants or vegetables indoors, or find a creative outlet such as sketching or painting that you can do at home if you're not able to go out and do the social activities you were accustomed to doing.
Having a hobby that we're passionate about gives us purpose and fulfillment when other things aren't. Plus, you can gauge your progress and after 100 hours of learning piano, learning a language online on Italki, or coding classes.
Try learning a new language online or brush up on the languages you already studied but probably have forgotten. These days, it's really convenient to learn a language online with small classes with a virtual classroom. A good one to try is Expat Language School becuase they focus on speaking and coursework so whether you're moving abroad soon or planning travels, they offer most of the major world languages and many others to choose from. Being able to learn from home and gain a new skill also opens so many doors to meeting new people or attending social gatherings and language exchanges that weren't possible before.
3. Keep a journal & write every day
Journaling can help articulate emotions and help us also gauge our progress within the span of time. This is also a great way to build resilience and it's a therapeutic way to vent our pent-up emotions, to rearrange ideas, plan, decide, reflect and find the necessary connection to ourselves. Sometimes, even jotting down a few thoughts before bed, or taking the moment to journal for five minutes in the morning can be a helpful emotional release when we start getting in our heads and feeling overwhelmed. Plus, it boosts creativity as well. Those who have ever done a 'brain dump' understand how effective this can be in terms of coming up with ideas before being able to organize them in a constructive way.
Sometimes the stress and uncertainty of the current situation can keep us up at night, wake us up, or create anxious circles in our minds. Instead of staying in this state, grabbing a journal to jot down the thoughts and feelings can help us get it all out so we can get back to sleep.
One study cited in an INC.com article even said that keeping a 'worry journal' that people who suffer from anxiety allowed them to write down fears and worries and reflect on their writings 10 days later to find that many of our worries don't actually materialize. Being able to write down these feelings was a powerful stress release.
4. Observe reality without judging it
Accept reality for what it is and try not to judge it. That means evaluating situations and circumstances as facts, instead of attaching emotion or immediately labeling something. This is much easier said than done, but once you learn to observe things, circumstances, and people in a more neutral stance, we remove negative elements from them that cause us upset and grief.
We judge every time we decide something:
- Is right or wrong
- Is good or bad
- Should happen or shouldn’t happen
"We may interpret events according to our own judgement, but those events will happen whether we have an opinion about them or not. We get stressed when we respond to a situation with feelings of anxiety, but someone else may have a completely different reaction and stay calm throughout. Managing this anxiety will be key to moving forward with your mindset and future life.
The difference is in the perception and attitude we have, which in turn creates the reality we live in."
When we impulsively judge something negatively, it prevents us from observing things objectively and experimenting with new alternative strategies and confines us to our schemes even if they are not effective. Get curious, see if you can find alternative ways to manage the situation by asking yourself, is there a lesson here? Is there a gift? What can I take away from this situation? How can you move forward?
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
— Robert Louis Stevenson
5. Keep a gratitude list & write down 3 good things everyday
Every day, whether in the morning or the evening, practice becoming aware of at least three positive things that have happened to you during the day and stop and feel the emotions that come up around them. Sometimes, this is harder than it sounds, especially when things seem crappy.
If you're having a hard time, start by looking around your room. Do you have a bed to sleep in? Who are you most grateful for in your life? Do you have a pet you love? Was it sunny out today? Who did something nice for you? Did you eat today and do you have a roof over your head? Sometimes, starting small is the best way to get started. This gets easier over time and you'll grow accustomed to finding the good things around you, even when you need to remind yourself more about it during the harder times.
“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
6. Transformational Life-coaching to explore & get unstuck
The number of people who have been getting life coaching and business coaching during 2020- 2022 has increased due to highly unpredictable situations relating to job, family and lockdown, and disruptive change. The only positive side of the pandemic is that ZOOM has made it more possible for life coaches to be more accessible to everyone who has been stuck at home.
Sometimes, we keep ourselves stuck with an idea of how things should be instead of using the tools that we have. Don't stifle your fears and frustrations, don't try to hide sadness or anger. Instead, try to channel these emotions, recognizing them first and understanding them later. Give it a try and find a middle ground: don't try to hide negative emotions, but don't let them take control of your life. To build resilience and to get to know yourself well, you need to become a great manager of your own circumstances using what you have to move toward what you want.
Having a life coach to help you find the clarity inside you and help you plan out goals and align your path better with your values, intentions, and dreams.
7. Take online classes
Train your mind to accept ways of thinking and acting that are different from yours. Try to face something new every day that you are not used to, testing your ability to adapt to unusual circumstances. For example: if you usually organize everything meticulously from when you wake up to when it's time to go to sleep, try your hand at something that requires spontaneity, creativity and that relies more on instinct than on reflection, such as a course of dance or play a musical instrument. And if you can't go out now, watch some tutorials on YouTube and experiment! The important thing is that you keep yourself open to discussion and discovery.
These days, there are also a million courses online, whether Udemy or Coursera, free educational courses and workshops from top univerities, etc. We can learn everything from home that we've always wanted to learn about. Financial barriers to education have come down online with the presence of even university course that are free or offered at low prices.
8. Heal your emotional blocks with EFT Tapping
Simply put, EFT is used to better manage emotions, belief, and imbalance. The Journal of Evidence-based integrated therapy states that: "Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a novel therapy that combines both cognitive and somatic elements and is an evidence-based self-help therapeutic method and over 100 studies demonstrate its efficacy."
I admit - it looks funny. I didn't get it either when I first saw it around 10 years ago in some videos I was watching about limiting beliefs. In modern practice, it is a mixture of tapping on Chinese acupressure energy points using your two fingers, which stimulates energy in the body along with acknowledging negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones using positive affirmations.
The flow of vital energy is accessed by stimulating certain points on the body that correspond to the meridians (energy flow channels). It is considered an effective method to stimulate resilience (the ability of an individual to face and overcome a difficult event), self-esteem, to manage emotional and traumatic states.
The belief or deeper work is a bit like an "onion": you need to peel back the different layers. Some beliefs are tied to people, situations, times in your life, and these events, people etc need to be tapped on separately to get to the core root of the belief, perhaps heal, and change it. For emotional situations, such as stress and anxiety, or even panic attacks, EFT tapping can be extremely helpful. Clearing fear and worry can be done quickly and easily with EFT tapping.
9. Let go of what you cannot control
Control is the tool we use to keep ourselves in this continuous race. Sometimes, it's is enough for one of the pieces to tumble and mess up everything else with a domino effect. Remember that life does not follow our instructions: you can plan your days as much as you want, but you can never keep everything under control. The wisest thing to do, as well as accept it, is to learn to manage what happens to you with calm and concentration, rather than getting angry or panicking when something goes differently than you expected. Only by riding the events will you be able to see the opportunities for growth they hide.
"Once you realize you cannot control external events, your energies can be placed elsewhere. You can focus on the only thing you do have control over your responses, your mindset, your attitude, your outlook."
Set your intentions in 2022
Setting your intentions rather than goals allows you to adjust as needed to get the outcome you want.
"An intention is a guiding principle for who you want to be and how you want to act, live, and show up in this world. Whether at work, in relationships, during your creative or spiritual pursuits, or in any other area of your life, an intention serves as an internal compass. It offers a sense of clarity and helps guide your actions as you move throughout the days of the year."
When we set specific goals, rules, etc., for ourselves, especially around New Years, we often beat ourselves up and feel bad about ourselves when we don't manage to succeed in everything. With deliberate intentions, we have a vision to look forward to, to adapt as needed, instead of giving up completely when we have obstacles to overcomes.
How are you managing your resilience? Do you feel you need clarity on how to move forward in your life despite the circumstances? Reach out to me for a discovery call now and let's figure out how to get you back on track with life coaching or we can use EFT tapping to manage your stress and anxiety or feelings of being stuck. Book now.
I am a supportive motivator as a coach, and I've always loved being around people from all over the world. I'm a transformational life coach and happy to help you reach your goals for a richer, more fulfilling life. Likewise, I help people understand gain self awareness so they can figure out what's keeping them stuck, which limiting beliefs hold them back, or what emotional meets are not getting met so they can understand how to create better boundaries and standards in their relationships. In particular, I can help you when you're at that point of saying 'Enough!' - I want something better!
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals). If you're interested in booking a free 15 minute discovery call for transformational life coaching, EFT Tapping, or SRT coaching, book here.
Header photo: Alex Shute
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