We can read your current state of mind: You’re most likely plagued with uncertainty about the future and questions like, ‘Extended Lockdown!’, ‘What’s going to happen next?’, ‘Will this ever end?’, ‘What about the economy?’.
While this isn’t a great mindscape to be in, it’s often natural to feel a sense of fear or angst, especially in times like these where we’re worried about our health and that of our loved ones.
The key to dealing with such situations is to be aware of our thoughts and emotions, and then to logically work out how to respond to difficult circumstances. This is how we can be resilient in the face of uncertainty — something psychological literature defines as the ability to ‘bounce back’ from crises.
You’re now probably wondering —
How can I work through my fears?
How can I manage stress?
How can I be better prepared to meet unforeseen challenges?
Well, to start with, remember that the process of coping with stressors (particularly those not within our control) cannot happen overnight. It takes time and patience. So with that being said, let’s look at ways in which we can cultivate resilience in the days ahead.
Disengagement when needed, and often
Being constantly connected and aware of current events isn’t always a good thing. In fact, studies show that there are restorative effects of being able to psychologically detach from stressful situations, which we more commonly call ‘switching off.’ Yes, it can be challenging. But too much information overwhelms our cognitive and affective systems, it’s important for us to know when to say no. And this ‘no’ could take various forms — e.g. detoxing from your phone for a couple of hours or setting boundaries with loved ones — and using the time you gain to engage in enjoyable, meaningful activities. Eventually, this can help us listen to our own needs and act in ways that promote wellbeing.
Change is tough, but can also transform
Transforming ourselves while facing life challenges is often a slow and painful process, but resilience is at the heart of this process. By harnessing our inherent capacities to adapt to change, we may gain growth and wisdom even from our most difficult experiences.
For example, being taken out of our daily routines can initially seem disorienting — but as we slowly get used to the change thrown at us, we can plan activities around it that could develop into a new, more fulfilling routine with a renewed sense of purpose!
Community in the age of technology
The positive psychological impact of community and online support has been associated with personal and social well-being. While some of us may be living away from home or family, or in environments where immediate support is not readily available to us, our online connections and communities can create a sense of group cohesiveness, identity, and belonging.
Closed groups and communities in particular can create a forum for support and well-being with clear expectations for how the community will run, what the purpose is, and how it can help. Just remember — while physical isolation is sometimes inevitable, social isolation need not be!
Coping with anxiety, cultivating mindfulness
For those of us already dealing with anxiety or depression, these symptoms can resurface or feel stronger when faced with a tough situation. Uncertainty is likely to cause panic, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. It may also cause stress in our bodies, and that’s when it becomes important to manage somatic forms of anxiety to relax the body and mind. However, it’s also important to not always think of anxiety as an experience that’s meant to be avoided, since fear has a self-protective function that keeps us out of harm’s way. It’s then important to distinguish between whether our anxiety is about what could happen, or what is already happening. Mindfulness meditation as a practice can help us stay anchored in the present, and focus on helping us regulate the fear we feel about tomorrow.
Lastly, always do a self-check when feeling anxious, and ask yourself whether you might benefit from talking to a loved one about it or to a professional. Seeking support when you need it can help you address difficulties in a more immediate way and deal with concerns that are within your control.
At the end of the day, it’s crucial to remember that we have a range of strategies and options available to us, and with some effort, planning, and flexibility, we can continue to focus on maintaining good emotional and physical well-being through tough times, and work on how to stay resilient.
If you find yourself looking for support, you can always speak to a mind.fit therapist via a video chat on the cure.fit app.