We all respond to stress in our unique way, and the Coronavirus pandemic has certainly placed us in challenging times, forcing us to navigate uncharted territory.
We have lost the structure, and routine many of us crave. It’s easy to feel stressed, and anxious struggling to cope with an overwhelming 24-hour news cycle. Some of the heightened anxiety is perhaps for our elderly loved ones, our children, relatives and friends, loss of income, and, last but not least, our own mental and physical health.
For me, the first step during stressful times is, to be honest with myself, acknowledging and naming my fears. After I have written them down, which can take a minute, I begin to challenge those fears that are irrational. Later the process involves accommodating a degree of uncertainty, which generally feels uncomfortable, but the acceptance of discomfort, which I cannot control, ends up becoming liberating. Carl Jung put it best when he said, “What you resist persists.” Denying your fears is not necessary but allowing them to control you is a choice.
I often ask myself how to integrate positive emotions and mindset into my life during upturned times with a good dose of practical, realistic optimism. Some helpful and straightforward strategies that generally work for me include limiting my exposure to the media, thinking about what I’m grateful for, and physically writing that down in my journal. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. known for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream says, “To feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find the sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this current, to pause, and rest in stillness—to stop doing and focus on just being.”
Overindulging negativity undermines functionality and risks eroding meaningful relationships. During stressful times it becomes even more critical to find a way to challenge our worst fears and negative thinking by consciously raising self-awareness of thoughts and feeling through a deliberate self-imposed pause. Slowing down alone may feel novel, but it facilitates noticing the almost constant internal dialogue of ideas that come so quickly impacting our thinking and behavior without us even realizing it.
Reframing entails challenging one’s perspective in a given situation and infusing it with a more positive outlook. Pausing even for a moment to notice the beauty around, slowing down to fully inhale and experience a complete exhale. Coronavirus is no fairytale, but in times such as these, we realize that we are more resilient than we thought. We are all in this together – and that this curveball too shall pass.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Victor Frankel
Photos from (top) Pixabay and (body) Deposit Photos