What CAN we control right now?
In times of stress, change and uncertainty, when the world around us feel so totally out of control, it can be difficult to see that you actually DO have control of how you feel. We can, indeed must, learn to focus on the things that we CAN control, namely, our attitudes, mindset and how we respond to adversity. The Covid19 pandemic has undoubtedly created so much uncertainty for all of us: finding a way to cope with the anxiety and maintain a positive outlook are key to our controlling our feelings, thinking and therefore control our resulting behaviours and outcomes. With a positive mindset, we are better positioned to dig deep and still feel joy, engage with our passions and find motivation and contentment, even when the going gets tough. RESILIENCE is key in the face of great challenge.
How do we build resilience in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic?
Accept that you feel stressed. If you accept the situation that the world is in at the moment, you will not be fighting against the anxiety, fear and other feelings you are experiencing. Identify the emotions that are attached to this situation and move on. MOTION changes EMOTION.
REFRAME YOUR MINDSET
Reframe the stress you are feeling as HELPFUL. Ask yourself if the stress is disruptive or simply annoying. This will help you to manage your feelings in a more controlled way. Can you change your mindset so that the stress is a challenge as opposed to a threat? Try making a list of the times that you have had to push through difficult times, to reassure yourself that you can do it again. What were the skills that you used? What are your strengths when the going gets tough? Remind yourself of your own resilience.
FUEL YOUR MOTIVATION
Break your ultimate goals into manageable, daily tasks - these small successes will spur you on. Progress makes us feel better about ourselves, which in turn leads to more progress. Start with the tasks and activities that you enjoy, which help give you that 'feel good' factor. Your positive outlook will be contagious, which will then ripple through those who surround you, which can only be a good thing!
MODERATE YOUR BREATHING
Slowing your breath will help eradicate the 'fight or flight' feelings that you are experiencing. When we are stressed, our breathing becomes shallow, which increases our heart rate, causing palpitations, which in turn fuels the feelings of anxiety. The physical feelings of stress can be calmed by regulating our breathing - and will help to relieve the mental strain.
Try this simple, yet effective breathing exercise:
Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
Breathe out through your mouth for 5 seconds
Rest for a few seconds
Repeat until you experience a feeling of calm
Practising yoga, meditation and mindfulness can also be extremely rewarding and can restore a sense of peace, by helping you to focus on being in the here and now. There are so many apps and online videos with ideas - find one that suits you.
FIND A SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE
Try keeping a daily journal to evoke mindfulness, help you to stay in the present and maintain perspective. Journaling is a useful tool through which you can achieve a greater sense of your overall wellbeing and the emotional patterns that have made you feel 'stuck' in life. It's very simple: take some time at the end of every day, and write down the events that have occurred, with the corresponding emotions that you have experienced. You will soon be able to see what is helpful to your mental wellbeing, making you feel more positive - as well as what you need to work on to prevent negative feelings from holding you back.
I hope that you find some inspiration in these strategies. By using them on a regular basis, you will build your resilience and manage your stress throughout this extremely challenging time.