How To Develop Resilience In An Uncertain WorldJul 15, 2020
By Annabella Zeiddar
Probably not since the events of 9/11 has there been so much uncertainty on a global level. At times it can feel like you are being swept under a tsunami wave of anxiety. Talk of 'life will never be the same', startling statistics and images of field hospitals being built can push our natural negative bias to shift into overdrive. Together with the prospect of prolonged periods in lockdown and /or isolation, it's all too easy to find yourself descending into a downward spiral towards hopelessness and overwhelm.
As humans we need to believe we are in control of what's happening in our lives and when we feel out of control, this is what leads to fear and uncertainty and the inability to focus on what is happening around us. While we can't control everything, we can control how we react to events. Using both mindset and practical tools, you can build skills to deal with the toughest of times in the most effective way and have more power over the way you react.
Here are my 10 ten ways to build coping strategies quickly and most effectively.
PRACTICE THOUGHT AWARENESS
This is not about just being positive and pretending everything is hunky-dory. Because it's not. But what it is, is hitting the mental STOP button before you descend into a downward spiral to that worst-case scenario. So, when those catastrophizing thoughts begin to float across your mind, you need to say STOP. Ask yourself, is this thought true? Inevitably, the answer is likely to be no.
Take a moment to come up with different scenarios - the best-case scenario and the realistic scenario. You'll probably find the best- and worst-case scenarios have a very small chance of happening so remind yourself of that and go with the realistic one.
Think back to a time which was challenging and remind yourself that you got through it then and you can get through this.
Change the thought. Remind yourself, I am safe, and I've got this or whatever resonates with you. Your mind can not hold 2 conflicting thoughts so repeat until it becomes your predominant thought and the physical sensations in your body lessen or cease.
Excitement and fear are essentially the same things - just one is positive and the other is negative. Fritz Perls said, ' Fear is excitement without the breath.' When we are fearful, we hold our breath as an unconscious response. Think about when you were a child and you heard a noise in the middle of the night, and you held your breath! By breathing deeply, you stimulate the vagus nerve, our stress reset button, that sends a message to our brain that all is well. You'll begin to feel calmer and more relaxed and better able to focus and deal with life's challenges effectively.
Try this powerful square breathing technique:
When doing this exercise, you should be breathing deeply enough to see your diaphragm moving up and down as this is how the vagus nerve is stimulated. After taking a moment to make yourself comfortable and put both feet on the ground with your hands resting on your legs, take a deep breath in through the nose while counting slowly from 1 to 4, hold it for a count of 4 and then breathe out slowly for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4 and repeat until you feel calmer.
RECOGNISE WHAT IS NOT WITHIN YOUR CONTROL AND LET IT GO
There's a saying that goes along the lines of...if it's not within your control, it shouldn't be in your mind. You can't force things to go your way because you are just one element in the huge scheme of things. But you can have a strong influence. So instead of worrying about what you can't control, focus on what you can influence instead. Keep the focus on you and do everything that's within your power. So practice social distancing, wash your hands and follow the guidelines.
BRING YOURSELF BACK TO THE PRESENT
When it feels like the world is in turmoil, you can find yourself living in your head. There is only now. There is only the present. The past is gone, and the future hasn't happened yet.
You can bring yourself back to the present at any time by practising this powerful mindfulness exercise:
Find a comfortable position and ground yourself by taking a few deep breaths. With your eyes open, become aware of something that you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. When your mind is focusing on the present, it simply isn't able to hold that negative image or thought in your mind. Try and hold as many of those senses in your mind at once and tell yourself, I am safe, and all is well. Repeat until you feel better.
REPEAT POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
When being bombarded by news and social media, many of our thoughts can bring on feelings of self-doubt, helplessness and fear. Repeated often enough, positive affirmations really can help train your brain to think differently. Try reminding yourself every day that you were born with phenomenal coping skills by repeating, I am safe, I am supported, and I can handle this.
CREATE A ROUTINE
No-one knows how things will pan out over the coming weeks and months, but it will not always be like this and we will get through it. If you are wondering how you will get through this, break down your time into manageable chunks. Create a routine. Routines create familiarity even if it is for a new normal such as working from home and/or homeschooling the kids.
REDUCE THE SOURCE OF THE CATASTROPHIZING
The media and social media is swamped with news of COVID 19. Understand that good news doesn't get ratings or viewing figures. Limit the amount of time you're exposing your mind to the news or your online feed.
PAY IT FORWARD
When feeling like a situation is hopeless, the best thing to do is to try and help others. Think about how you can help someone else. It could be as simple as reaching out to a loved one, helping a neighbour or sharing a skill. When we help others, we feel happier, in control and more empowered and so improve our mental health.
CREATE A SELF CARE PLAN
Imagining the worst is far more likely when you are tired and stressed and if you are running on empty. Ensure you are getting enough sleep because sleep boosts your immune system so it's a win-win situation. Aim for 6 to 7 hours a night. Make time every day to eat healthily, keep hydrated, exercise, meditate, journal, read, listen to music etc Whatever feels like feeding your soul because it needs it right now.
We are hardwired to be connected with other people. Self-isolation and social distancing can be challenging but it doesn't need to mean that you don't stay connected. Make sure to stay in touch with loved ones, have virtual social get-togethers like Friday drinks or Netflix watch parties!
By making some changes, you can shift your daily perspective on the world. That doomsday scenario isn't going to play out. Just like scaremongering is infectious, so is positivity and love. Choose love and decide to make these changes in your life now, creating better mental health for yourself. And of course, always reach out to health care professionals if you ever feel life is becoming overwhelming.
Annabella Zeiar is a hypnotherapist, transformational therapist and confidence coach. She firmly believes that working on both the conscious mind through coaching and the subconscious mind with therapy is where the magic happens, resolving both past emotional wounds and empowering women to reach their goals.
She lives in the UK with her husband as well as their amazing son. Working globally online, her mission is to help high-achieving women recognise just how extraordinary they really are by getting to the root cause of emotional issues rapidly and permanently. You can find out more about her over on her website.
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