Building Resilience for the New Normal
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.”― Elizabeth Edwards
You may have heard of the term, 'Coronacoaster'? The Coronacoaster is the emotional white knuckle rollercoaster ride that many people have unwilling ridden on at different points throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, including myself. Experiencing a wide range of emotions is a perfectly normal response to a unique and challenging period of time as we navigate through many change curves due to the rapidly changing guidelines of our new normal. Just as we digest, process and accept new information, we have to start again which is causing stress and anxiety for many as the country prepares to transition back into the workplace. So how can we adapt to change in the face of adversity and come out the other side in a stable mental condition?
Read on for my tips on how to build resilience and adapt to change.
1. Emotional Literacy
Emotional literacy is the ability to understand and express emotions. Being 'emotional' is not weak, it takes courage to be vulnerable, accepting emotions arrive for a reason and taking decisive action to care for them in the moment. Being mindfully aware in that way will help you to fully process your emotions and not be driven by them. You could try this R.A.I.N mindfulness practice the next time you are hit with a wave of emotion:
R - Recognise the emotion - "anxiety, anger, sadness... is here"
A - Accept the emotion has arrived and meet it with kindness. You can't stop it coming, it's already here.
I - Investigate how the emotion feels in your body, drawing you away from thinking.
N - Non-identification. You are not the emotion, but a human feeling the effects of it and it will pass.
Being in denial, fighting against or wishing this pandemic crisis to be different will only keep you in brooding or worrying cycles of thought, negatively impacting your resilience to the inevitable change. It is only natural to stray into those areas of thinking but we do have a choice of which thoughts to give air time to and which ones not to and choosing not continue with debilitating, unhelpful thoughts builds our resilience to them.
Accepting the reality of things are what they are and out of our control. We cannot change this pandemic, homeschooling, isolation, financial hardship or returning to work, accepting the situation is the only path to letting go and moving forward in a constructive way and with the least suffering. The only control we have over the things beyond our control is how we relate to it.
"If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou
3. Be Clear
The unknown causes anxiety so take steps to become more resilient to alleviate fears by being clear, being informed and understanding what next steps are available to you.
If you have concerns about returning to work, take time to think clearly about what questions you would like answers to and communicate them to your line-manager. Also, express how you are feeling and be clear on what your limitations are with child-care, needing to shield or caring for others.
We all need a sense of belonging and in unity we are stronger. Make an effort to stay connected with friends, family and colleagues in your tribe who will help support you through the tough times and be there to also share the times with you too.
Why not set up a Whatsapp group for friends or colleagues where people can air their worries or share their wins in a safe non-judgemental space? Or perhaps a buddy system, pairing up people to check-in with each other, not to talk about work but just to say 'Hi' and find out what they've been up to.
5. Get Outside
Being outside in nature has proven benefits for wellbeing but the ability to do that has been severely restricted during lockdown. Now the restrictions are easing, try to make the most of the time you have to get outside which may mean going earlier or later to keep a safe distance from others if you live in a busy area. Walking through woodlands, green spaces or near the water is truly good for the soul and watching nature is a steadying reminder that life still goes on.
I am hearing from people they have developed some anxiety about going outside after spending so much time inside and worrying about catching the virus. Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion to feel but to stop it progressing into a debilitating mood state try taking small steps to confront your fears. Protect yourself following Government guidelines and maybe start with just standing on your door step, then each day move a little farther away from house until you can build up to a longer walk. Remind yourself that the feeling of anxiety will pass and if you feel triggered tune into:
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Doing that will draw you in the reality of the moment and lower your stress response.
6. Move to Motivate
As someone prone to anxiety and low mood, I knew at the beginning of lockdown I needed to add exercise into my self-care routine because of the proven benefits it brings. I began huffing and puffing to P.E with Joe in the mornings, which really helped to lift my mood and motivate me for the day ahead. Two of the reasons this makes me feel so good is that exercise releases happy hormones into the body and completing a workout gave me a sense of achievement boosting my overall wellbeing. Not to mention becoming physically and mentally stronger.
If HiiT training is a bit drastic for you, just try shaking out the body every now and again or dance around the kitchen, anything to get the blood, oxygen and happy hormones flowing round your body and motivating you for the day ahead.
In times like these, we can slip down a negative rabbit hole, unable to feel joy or even notice it. Stopping to intentionally be grateful helps us to see and appreciate the positives of every day and not just the negatives, improving our mood, wellbeing, resilience and ability to take a more balanced perspective on life.
“The idea is that our minds actually work better when we are grateful — allowing us to be more creative, more optimistic, and more capable in our endeavors,” says clinical psychologist, Dr. Lillian Nejad.
There are many ways to practice gratitude and I like to think of at least 5 things I am grateful for before going to sleep at night. For some help with different ways of getting a gratitude practice started why not head to https://thriveglobal.com/stories/4-ways-to-practice-gratitude-and-build-resilience/
We may be in this together but I recognise we all have different lives and so our challenges will be different too. I wish you all the very best for navigating through your own storm as safely as possible.