These are unprecedented times! The coronavirus has significantly impacted many aspects of how Americans, and people around the world, live and work. “Normal” life already includes numerous challenges, and the impacts from the coronavirus pandemic to our family, our job, our financial situation, how we interact with others, how we relax and recreate, etc. has added a whole other level of uncertainty, disruption, stress, frustration, and even fear.
So, what are we to do? Curling up in a ball or under the covers is no answer even though, at times, it may feel comforting. Being resilient (the ability to adjust easily to, or quickly recover from, adversity, misfortune or change) is a must-have life skill – especially in these times. Note the words of Maya Angelou, that “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
We should not allow what happens to us to make us any less than we were before it happened! As we adjust our personal and professional lives to stay as active, healthy, and productive as possible, here are some tips to help improve or sustain your resiliency.
Optimism is key
Strive to remain optimistic in light of adversity. Accept setbacks and look for ways to forge forward. Choose to see difficult circumstances as learning opportunities rather than as a time to shut down. Ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” to help shape the challenge to your advantage. Or asking, “Is there any way in which this could actually turn out to be good someday?” could present a realm of possibility. Simply pondering these questions will take you to a different emotional domain, one rich with possibility rather than foreboding.
Recognize that bumps in the road – even as significant as those related to this pandemic – are a normal and inevitable part of life. Although it may be difficult to accept, especially while in the midst of it all, know that this too shall pass. Seek to understand how obstacles can impact your goals and desired results, and focus on being as realistic as possible…while endeavoring to stay above all of the negativity that surrounds us.
Ensure your own equanimity
Equanimity may be a new term for you, but it is essential to possess, especially in these difficult times. Defined as calmness, equilibrium, mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension, or strain; it is critical, for example, to maintain proper balance, to stay grounded and centered, and to be “present.” Cultivate a practice of gratitude (what are you grateful for?) and mindfulness (meditation, breathing, taking a step back, etc.). Maintaining emotional stability while being a calming influence on others can be of tremendous benefit in coping with challenges and uncertainty.
Reframe how you think about stress
How we perceive stress can be just as important to how we handle it as the amount of stress we’re experiencing. Shift your focus from eliminating the day-to-day pressures that you face to changing your perception of them. You might ask, “How can I use the energy created by feeling stressed about this situation to better cope with it?” or “What can I learn from the stress about my new work situation that will help me better prioritize my time?”
Link your mindset to action
Having the proper mindset is not enough. You must translate your thoughts and positive attitude into the right behaviors and action. Identify your priorities and develop a plan of action. Strive to quickly work through the emotions and effects of stressful events, and get onto action. Narrow your options and have the courage to make difficult (but grounded) decisions. To help identify opportunities that you may never have conceived of before, ask yourself “What can I do to make this happen?” Leverage others to hold you accountable and to help keep you on track (and do the same for them). Being decisive and acting on it will help you rebound from adversity and move forward.
Allow time for self-recovery (you can’t be “always on”)
We tend to believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be. However, this conception is inaccurate. The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again. The very lack of a recovery period is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful. A resilient person is a well-rested one, so get plenty of restful sleep (don’t sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity) and make sure you are strategically stopping (taking short mental and physical breaks) throughout the course of your day.
We’re human – not machines. We have good days and bad days. And sometimes we have extended periods of adversity or misfortune, such as what we are currently experiencing with COVID-19. Even though there are plenty of challenges to deal with, there are new things to learn and experience, new possibilities to be explored, and new opportunities to be taken advantage of. And hopefully you can do all of this…and more!
We hope that these tips are helpful for you and, if we can be of any assistance, please contact us.
Stay safe and well!
To Handle Increased Stress, Build Your Resilience by Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston, February 2018; Building Resilience by Martin E.P. Seligman, April 2011; To Build Your Resilience, Ask Yourself Two Simple Questions, by Srikumar Rao, June 2017; Stronger by George S. Everly, Jr., Douglas A. Strouse, and Dennis K. McCormack, April 2014.