COVID 19 for all of us is the ultimate unknown and with rapid and constant change, we can easily feel overwhelmed. Not only professionally from coaching but personally, I have always had an avid interest in resilience and how people weather through seriously rough times.
Here are 10 practical tips, some of which I hope will help you to stay resilient in what are surreal times.
1. Focusing on what can control, not what you can’t
Our resilience is most impacted when we feel that we have no control. When we experience crisis without an internal focus on what we can do or how we can adapt, we start to falter and doubt our capacity to cope.
Look at your own immediate world, what practical things can you do to get some sense of control? In COVID 19 times this could be as simple as preparing good food, cleaning routines and re-organising work and life logistics as much as you can. When self-isolating under lockdown, set yourself a ‘project’ to do. Doing something pro-active, no matter how small, helps you regain some sense of control to build resilience.
2. Reframing and creating some meaning
Reframing is key to resilience and it’s simply linked to that quote ‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’ We already hear many people highlighting, even in this crisis, the opportunities for all of us to see/do something meaningful. This includes families spending time together at home, innovating new flexible ways of working or studying and a chance for all of us to pull together and support each other in our communities. Reframing can be powerful to view things through a different lens and act with a changed purpose.
3. Helping others
In times of serious adversity, turning our attention to what we can do to contribute or helping someone else can also give us a feeling of purpose and meaning which improves resilience. We can do so many things for other people in these times. There are charities, local foodbanks or online community forums such as www.nextdoor.co.uk which you can link with to help neighbours and people in your community.
4. Taking a news break
Be mindful of the amount of time you spend reading about, listening to, watching the news or browsing social media relating to COVID 19. Yes, it is absolutely vital to keep updated with public health information. However, if you are always immersed in it you run the risk of constantly thinking about it and very quickly becoming overwhelmed. Strike a balance and vary your attention to have a focus on other things and what you can do for yourself and others.
5. Keeping social connection
Our lives have, for the time being, changed dramatically with social distancing, self-isolation and lockdown but this does not mean that we break social connection. We have so many ways we can still connect. Keep communicating whether it’s by phone, Skype or Zoom apps. Organise to have a group call with friends / family. If you know someone on their own, reach out and phone, email or message them.
Another good way to feel more connected, especially if you are on your own, is tuning into local radio. A fantastic example here in NI is the U105 Lunchtime Bistro Show with Carolyn Stewart which is going the extra mile to reach out and connect us across the airwaves. We need each other's company, however it comes, now more than ever.
6. Acknowledging your emotions
We can reframe and be pro-active but to be aware of and acknowledge our natural emotions is also important. As well as talking with friends or family, there is another very effective way of processing how you feel with just simple pen and paper. Writing about how you feel by journaling can really help. Some of us may not want to confide in people close to us that we are feeling anxious as we want to appear strong or reassuring. However, we all need to process how we are and putting our feelings privately on the page can give us that emotional release valve.
7. Remembering your own strengths
During big events, we can feel small and vulnerable. However, even in the toughest of times people can always amaze themselves. If you doubt your capacity to cope, just remember, reflect and note a really difficult time you had before and how you got through it. All us have skills, knowledge and qualities which we can dig into to keep ourselves going, remind yourself of yours.
8. Self-care and well-being
We know and all need to strictly follow the public health messages. For resilience and well-being you also need to keep doing things you enjoy. For a lot of us, some of those things (e.g. such as going to the gym, bar or concerts) are not possible but there can be other ways to relax. It doesn’t matter what, whether it’s a long, hot bath, crafts, mindfulness, gaming, playing an instrument, writing, whatever it is, build it in. Doing small enjoyable things which distract you, reduces stress and boosts resilience.
9. Trying to be a ‘realistic optimist’
People who are realistic optimists believe that even in the worst of times they can still do something to shape the outcome. They see the challenges but think about steps to deal with it. For example, I have my own business and like so many other self-employed people and businesses, we are on the ropes. However, even taking that first step to find out what is available to help your company or to just financially survive right now is starting to prepare. Being overly optimistic (i.e. sticking your head totally in the sand with 'it will all be grand’ thinking) lessens resilience as when things do hit, you haven’t pre-empted anything to deal with it.
10. Raising your spirits with...
Music, arts, culture, spirituality, inspiring stories or even remembering your granny’s wisest sayings can lift your mood. Watch your favourite film, listen to your most loved comedian, check out a TED talk or play those songs which always make you feel better. Wisdom, humour and some sense of light relief can truly help us through the darkest of times.
If we forget what we value, love and makes us smile, we forget ourselves and what keeps us resilient.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Written by Maire Grattan, Director, FutureSpark Coaching