Resilience in the Time of COVID-19

The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 across the world has not just taken everyone by surprise but also turned our world upside down.

A changed world + vocabulary

Open a newspaper, put on the TV or glance at social media, and all you’ll see is news about the virus. “Lockdowns”, “viral hot-spots” and “quarantine” are all phrases that have become a new part of our collective vocabulary.

While the medical profession is struggling to keep up with the millions that need care and administrators are trying to keep pace with ever-growing supply needs, the rest of the world is struggling to come to terms with social distancing, a term entirely foreign to us just a few months ago.

The result of change=Resistance

Most of us don’t like change. Our routines make us feel comfortable. Any digression from an established routine can make us feel frustrated or scared.

While change is generally inevitable, COVID-19 has created an immeasurable disruption to our comfortable lives. Social distancing, along with having to wash hands regularly and be mindful of sources of infection, has had to take precedence over every other aspect of our lives.

It’s not just a change in routine, it is adjusting to living in confined spaces and interacting with family members on a whole new level. On top of it all are the worries of job loss, hungry stomachs to feed, disruptions in careers, and possible illness and death. These are all certain precursors to extreme anxiety and emotional distress.

Common distress reactions

Let’s look at some common ways people generally react in situations of emotional distress.

Denial + Withdrawal

Some people resist change and remain in denial. They try to go about their lives as best as they can. As such, some people might avoid reading about the pandemic or listening to the news.

Some may just withdraw from everyone, isolate themselves, or act like nothing has happened. They might maintain the mentality of “there is no virus” and they are not part of this crisis.

Reactive

A reactionary impulse would be to rush to the medical store and buy 50 masks. Or purchase enough groceries to feed 100 people. Someone might consume every single piece of news about the virus so they can be constantly informed.

While others might obsessively practice religious rituals in attempts to keep the virus away. These are all reactionary tactics for coping.

Proactive

Being proactive is trying to gain control over the situation and taking charge of what we have within our sphere of power or control. Being proactive is hard—it is considerably easier to simply deny, withdraw, or react on impulse.

However, being proactive in the long run will help us deal with stress and could be more rewarding over time.

COVID-19 resilience | CorStone
Our world has changed, stress had increased and COVID-19 resilience is needed by all | CorStone

How can we be more proactive with COVID-19 resilience?

Acknowledge that the COVID 19 pandemic and its associated disruptions are our new reality.

This is easier said than done, especially if it impacts your personal safety or your family’s next meal. But acknowledging that there is no escape from the situation is a crucial first step.

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1. | Recognize and accept disruption

Acknowledge that the COVID 19 pandemic and its associated disruptions are our new reality.

This is easier said than done, especially if it impacts your personal safety or your family’s next meal. But acknowledging that there is no escape from the situation is a crucial first step.

2. | Acknowledge your feelings

Unfortunately, feelings of sadness or fear are often seen as a sign of weakness. Particularly so if you are the head of a family or leading an organization or company. So we might tend to push away those hard feelings. However, pushing away our emotions does not make them go away. That might lead to either somatic discomfort (body ache, headaches, stomach upset) or behaviors such as lashing out.

Allowing yourself time to feel your authentic feelings will help you deal with the situation– both now and later. It’s perfectly okay to douse yourself in sadness and fear and let your tears flow. Or verbalize that you are scared. Give that time and be compassionate with yourself. I repeat – It is OKAY to feel sad or scared!

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3. | Consider reframing your view of the situation

Once you have acknowledged and expressed your emotions, you will perhaps find that you are able to reframe your reality. Think of times in the past when you have overcome difficult situations. Think about the personal ‘character strengths’ that you possess and how they have helped you in the past.

It could be your creativity that helped you to come up with new ideas, for example. It could be your kindness to people around you or your perseverance to overcome obstacles. How can you use these strengths now in different ways?

We all possess these internal strengths, so what better time than now to dig deep and capitalize on these important inner qualities?

4. | Create a plan with tangible steps for how you can act

• What is within your power to help you deal with the situation?
• How can you make sure that everyone uses the food and water that is available judiciously?
• How can we find alternatives to keeping hands clean with less water?
• How can we plan our day and distribute chores so that no one feels burdened?

Once you take these positive steps you might find that you can focus on the benefits of your actions and build resilience in the face of crisis.

Opportunty ahead for the resilient

The pandemic may have changed our lives overnight but maybe we can see this as an opportunity to reframe our lives and find ways to thrive with COVID-19 resilience.

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