This post is a little different from most of our posts, but I’ve been wanting to send out something like this for weeks. All of us at Ka Ua hope you’re well and I hope these tips help even if only in small ways.
2020 has been a year of upheaval, unrest, and disruption. The issues we are dealing with will shape our world for decades to come. With all of the external factors creating chaos in our lives it is even more important that we make the time and spend the effort build our personal resilience. This short list of ideas and practices should help you to cope with your currents challenges and can serve you well into the future.
1 – Mindset is Your Secret Weapon
Wilderness survival experts all agree that mindset is the most important factor in a person’s outcome during a survival situation. It’s more important that physical fitness, outdoor skills, or even the equipment you have with you. Your mind is the most powerful tool that you possess. Like exercising your physical muscles, consciously enjoying the good in your daily life will make it easier for you to see the good in all situations. In turn, you should be better able to seek solutions to your challenges rather than dwell on the negative and feel stuck. Part of a healthy mindset is to be consciously involved in your present situation and not preoccupied with the past or future.
Enjoy the “Moments“
Knowing that “normal” has been changed we can adjust our plans for the long term, but more importantly prioritize enjoying today. Try to savor the good moments in each day. Relax during mealtimes and enjoy the company and food, take a walk around the neighborhood, hold hands with your partner when you’re talking, or call a friend just to talk.
Express Your Gratitude
A sense of gratitude is another factor that can build our psychological resilience and foster a healthy and constructive mindset. This strategy may not work for everyone, but numerous studies have been done that show active gratitude practices can increase a person’s overall happiness.1 By focusing (or refocusing) your thoughts on the positives in your life instead of the things that are lacking you are able to build up your emotional strength and ability to continue striving instead of giving in to negative thoughts and actions.
These are a few things you can try and see if they make a difference for you.
Write a thank you note. You might get an emotional boost by expressing your thanks in written form. You may also strengthen your relationship with the recipient of the note.
Reflect on the kind or helpful act and thank the person mentally. If you don’t have time to write a note, simply thanking the person in your own mind can still be beneficial.
Keep a gratitude journal. I know it might sound silly or contrived, but it’s a daily practice that can get you into the habit of focusing on the positive. The journal entries don’t have to be lengthy or terribly detailed either. Just writing down the things (even little things) that you were thankful for that day can be enough. If this doesn’t work for you, no problem, but you might be surprised by the results.
2 – Care for Others
Quarantines, travel restrictions, and social distancing have all put additional strains on our personal and work relationships. One thing to keep at the front of your mind is that we are all in this together. With the more limited social interactions we have now and going forward, acts of kindness will be even more valuable than before. Try to go out of your way to let those who are important to you know that you care. Make that extra phone call to your sibling, parent, or friend. Take a deep breath before getting in line at the super market and increase your patience for any inconveniences that you may run into there. Thank the person who let you pass by on a busy sidewalk. They can see you smiling under your mask.
3 – Be Flexible
Your schedule has probably been affected by the pandemic, in some cases drastically so. Instead of thinking about how hard it is to manage the altered schedule embrace the opportunities it provides.
If you are now at home part-time or full-time, I bet you can structure your day to fit your life a little better. If you’re diligent about it, you should actually have a little more time in the day because your commute is now 10 seconds. Like any change, this will require some adjustment. Spouses or children may need to learn when it is or is not appropriate to interrupt your workflow, and you may need to setup a dedicated space where you can work effectively.
A written daily schedule can help you find and plot out “pockets” of time. Those pockets are dedicated space and time for you to take care of what is important to you. Maybe you want to learn to draw, write a letter, or make a phone call. For example if you start working at 8:00 AM, maybe you have 30 minutes from 7:30 AM – 8:00 AM that can be used for one of those activities. You might also find that completing some of your “personal” tasks is easier in the afternoon. There’s no reason you can’t get those things done then spend a couple of hours in the evening handling work tasks that are not time sensitive.
I put together this template that you can download for free. Either use it for yourself or let it inspire you to create one the works better for you.
For many people this disruption of our daily routines can be an opportunity restructure our lives to make this difficult time easier, and to also learn how to create time for activities that are important or fulfilling for ourselves.
4 – Accept That Life Is Different – Build Your Resilience
We are entering the sixth month of the quarantine/Covid-19 response. At this point I think most of us realize that life won’t “snap back” to normal. This is important for us to accept that what we regarded as normal or “the way this are” is not necessarily where we will end up. Mental and physical fitness is a key way for us to build our most resilient selves so that we can move forward in the best way possible.
Resilience Requires Maintenance
We all feel a little overwhelmed sometimes, especially in times likes these. The protracted nature of the current crisis is a unique challenge for most of us. Know that you will have to consciously build and maintain your resilience. If you have to disengage for a short time (count to 10, sleep on a decision, stop reading the paper for a couple of days…) do so, but do it consciously. Know that you are rebuilding your capacity to deal with the challenges in front of you. There may come a point where you need help managing the stresses on you. Reach out for help. Your family and personal connections care about you. If you have an inkling that professional help is necessary, don’t wait. If all a doctor or counselor tells you is, “I think you’ll be fine,” that may be all you need to get over the hump. If it’s more serious you’ll be glad that you got help sooner.
Resilience Levels are Dynamic
You’ve probably already dealt with this; I know I have. The pressures and challenges during this quarantine have ebbed and flowed over the last few months. I have had weeks where it felt like nothing was wrong at all, and I’ve had others where there aren’t enough days in the week, never mind hours in the day. During the “hard days” many of the things listed in this post can help. Connecting with friends and family a powerful way to recharge your emotional batteries. Strategically (and temporarily) disengaging from stressful activities can help. Listing the things you are grateful for might allow you to reframe your current challenges and allow you to come up with new solutions.
Find Purpose During the Challenge
One of the biggest things we can do to support our mindset and motivation during this time is to know what our purpose is. What is it that drives you and makes putting up with all of these challenges worth it. For many people it’s their spouse or children. For others professional or financial goals keep them motivated. Maybe it’s knowing that what you do can help others make it through this crisis more gracefully. Whatever it is for you, always come back to that. Knowing what the big “WHY” will help you persevere in the face of incredible challenges.
Positive and Constructive Mindset
I’ll grant you that we’re probably all a heck of a lot more resilient that when we first started the lock down. Most of us have been challenged professionally, financially, and socially, but we’re still here. The challenges are far from over and keeping up the good fight can wear a person down.
I want to make it clear that what I say we should all strive to keep a positive or constructive mindset I don’t mean to ignore reality and pretend our problems don’t exist. On the contrary we should try to know the true nature of our challenges and what it will take to overcome them. I believe approaching our challenges from a position of realistic optimism can help us to continue moving forward in the midst of ambiguity and uncertainty.
The big takeaways from this post are:
- Mindset Matters – Enjoy small moments, be grateful.
- Care For Others – We are stronger together. And we are more together when we take care of each other.
- Be Flexible – Within our disrupted schedules there are opportunities to structure our time in more meaningful and useful ways.
- Purpose and Resilience are Key – Spend time with your own thoughts and nail down what is important to you. Knowing your “WHY” will help you persevere through the current crisis and challenges in the future.
We’ll get back to regular posts next time. For now please take good care of yourselves and others.
Tony @ Ka Ua