Manage stress and build resilience during Coronavirus tough times

As the Coronavirus pandemic extends globally and governments and businesses are closing down or transfer to work-from-home status, many of us are experiencing a variety of unpleasant emotions. We feel anxiety in response to the uncertainty of the situation; sadness related to losing our daily sources of meaning and joy; and anger at whatever forces are to blame for bringing this upon us.

Manage stress

It’s normal to be feeling anxious and scared these days. We as human beings are designed to find comfort and safety in the predictability of the routines of daily living; but our lives have dramatically changed very quickly, and many are struggling with finding ways to deal with the new reality.

Many people are facing the stress of taking care of their children, who are now homeschooling, while working from home and having families with elderly or sick members that are more exposed to the threat of the coronavirus. Nobody knows how long the pandemic will last or how long it will be, until we can resume our regular lives, if we will ever go back to our regular lives. The uncertainty of the situation makes it hard to plan a course of action and creates a high level of stress.

Fear

During times of crisis, as we are living through now, the tendency to view danger everywhere is getting bigger and the mind can become even more fixed and rigid by obsessive thinking that starts to increase the levels of worry and fear.

When your mind gets stuck in this state, a chain reaction begins. Fear begins to narrow your field of vision, and it becomes harder to see the bigger picture and the positive, creative possibilities in front of you.  As perspective shrinks, so too does our tendency to connect with others. Right now, the realities of how the coronavirus spreads can play into our worst fears. The way to overcome this natural tendency is to build our mental resilience.

Resilience

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to remain calm in the face of disaster while others appear to come undone? People that can keep their cool have what psychologists call resilience, or an ability to cope with problems. Resilient people can utilize their skills and strengths to cope and recover from problems and challenges. Resilience is the skill of noticing our own thoughts, unhooking from the non-constructive ones, and rebalancing quickly. This skill can be nurtured and trained. Here are three effective strategies:

Embrace negative emotions

It is important to acknowledge that a lot of anxious thoughts and emotions will show up during this time, and to accept them, rather than trying to escape them. The same goes for sadness stemming from the loss of our regular ways of living or worry about lack of supplies. Research has shown that avoidance of such emotions will only make them stronger and longer lasting. Notice negative emotions, thoughts and physical sensations as they come up, investigate them with curiosity, describe them without judgment and then let them go.

Instead of fighting our emotions, we can invest our energy in creating the best possible life, given the circumstances.

Focus

When you want to calm the mind all you need to do is keep the focus on something, can be a picture, an object, a dream, versus what is happening around you and continue to breath and relax into that. Accept and let go of all thoughts that come to you, without paying attention to them or judging them. Just let them pass by.  This calm and present state is crucial as it reduces levels of stress. When we practice bringing ourselves back to the present moment, we deepen our capacity to cope and adapt to all sorts of crises, whether global or personal.

Start new routines

Although many people escape from reality by watching Netflix, overeating or video gaming, be mindful about these distraction strategies. It’s important to establish structure and a sense of purpose with these new routines. Some positive routines you might want to incorporate in your life can be: working out, doing yoga, focusing on your breathing for 3 minutes 3 times a day, reading at least 30 minutes/ day, laughing, taking a log bubbly bath.


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