Covid-19, the “invisible enemy,” has affected all of us: man, woman, child; rich, poor, and everyone in between. It has affected our awareness about our health, our global economy, systems and procedures on both a national and international level, and the ways we do business and relate to each other. It has also affected some of us more than others depending on our level of access to resources, privilege, health status, job security, savings, and more. Nevertheless, no matter who you are or your location in the world, we are all collectively adjusting to a “new normal.” We are still unsure about the far-reaching and long lasting impact this pandemic can have, but, as with the aftermath of other atrocities in recent history, we are positioned well to make the necessary adjustments and implement new systems that will better equip us for the future.
However, this does not mean that this period of change, transition, and transformation is going to be easy. On both an individual and collective level, there will be hurdles, curveballs, and other unexpected and unforeseeable events that will make this period of change a non-linear one. Our sense of security, certainty, faith, and hope will be challenged. Our psychological, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness will be tested. So, in the upcoming months and years, we are going to have to do what it takes to take care of ourselves, promote our overall wellbeing, and support those around us if we are going to not only survive but THRIVE as citizens of this world. To support us in this undertaking, below I expand on nine tips – or coping skills – that are important for us to keep in mind and practise as we adapt during this period of transition.
ONE: HAVE AN OPEN MIND. We may not know exactly what the future holds, but we do know that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on various businesses and industries; employment, the economy, public health, where and how we work and more. Needless to say, we are stepping into a period of NEWNESS: new ideas, new structures, new methods of doing things, new ways of conducting business, etc. Change is happening all around us. However, the more closed off, inflexible, or hesitant we are to embrace change, the more obstacles and hardships we will face. So, allow yourself to be flexible and open to new things while incorporating the new in a way that is aligned with your beliefs, values, and personality.
TWO: ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS. There may have been things you were hoping to do or achieve this year that have gotten thrown off due to restrictions with Covid-19. You may still have grand plans, but, with every passing day, the possibility of them happening seems to grow dim. While it is important not to give up on your dreams, “keep the faith,” and hold on to hope, it is equally necessary to ensure that your expectations are focused and realistic. During this period of change, many things are up in the air. However, one way to keep yourself grounded is to adjust your goals and objectives in a way that makes them more achievable in light of the current circumstances.
THREE: TRY NOT TO ASSUME THE WORST. Spiraling thoughts are no stranger to us during periods where we have no idea what to expect or are being pushed in the direction of change. Uncertainty is one of the most difficult feelings for us to sit with as humans so we often try to ease this feeling by conjuring up scenarios of what we think can or will happen. Unfortunately, oftentimes our minds hyperfocus on the potential negatives rather than potential positives. This then increases fear and other unpleasant emotions, skews our vision of the future in a negative direction, and shuts us down from engaging actions that can significantly improve our quality of life. So, as much as you can, try to keep a balanced outlook of the future and remind yourself that you will overcome future obstacles.
FOUR: BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Any period of adapting to change is going to be a learning curve; a period of trial and error. We are in a moment in history where we are gauging the far-reaching impact of a pandemic, implementing new systems, collectively grieving the loss of loved ones, and trying to re-establish a sense of balance and normalcy – and it can feel like a LOT. So please, show yourself some compassion. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have available to you, both internal and external. Leave room for making mistakes and have a good cry if you need some release. Spend some time in prayer and engage other mindfulness activities to help you recentre yourself. Take care of you.
FIVE: BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR LIMITS. Change always brings new challenges and unfamiliar obstacles. Overcoming some of them may be a walk in the park, others may not. Hence, in adapting to a new normal, it is important to be honest with yourself in acknowledging your weak points. These may include gaps in skills or knowledge, financial limitations, lack of support, lack of access to certain resources; and other emotional, mental and physical obstacles. The Covid-19 period has been hard for all of us; it has been harder on some than others. It is completely understandable if you may not be ready or have the resources to hit the ground running coming out of this – and that is okay! Be truthful with yourself that you may need more time or extra support to find your footing.
SIX: ASSERT YOUR NEEDS. On the heels of the last point is asserting your needs. In the context of adapting to a new normal, this means asking for the support you need in order to adapt to change successfully. It may also mean setting healthy boundaries to preserve your mental, physical, and emotional energy as a means of self-care. Examples of asserting your needs may include: asking for help with systems introduced at work that you do not understand, reaching out to loved ones for help with childcare, checking in with a counsellor to process setbacks experienced during the pandemic, or letting your boss know that your increased workload is too much. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You are more likely to get the help you need if you ask.
SEVEN: CUT OTHERS SOME SLACK. Remember that you are not the only one who has experienced setbacks, loss and other challenges during this period. There are others who are suffering or possibly finding the adjustment to a new normal even more challenging. Therefore, try to be mindful to extend compassion to your loved ones, colleagues, and others in your life during this transition period. Offer support where you can, be a listening ear, and embrace a spirit of teamwork at your workplace that will ensure the success of your team and, by extension, your organisation. This is a time where we really need to lean on each other, show empathy, and help each other overcome the physical and mental hurdles in adjusting to this period of change and newness.
EIGHT: TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME. Sometimes, it is more helpful to simply focus on today and now than it is to direct your energy toward planning for future possibilities and problems. As new changes are implemented, restrictions lifted, and new systems put in place, address the obstacles that are put before you, one at a time. It is an I’ll-cross-that-bridge-when-I-get-to-it sort of mentality. Taking this approach, while not applicable in every, single situation, can help keep anxiety at bay and help you focus on addressing the challenges right in front of you without the psychological clutter of worry and racing thoughts associated with trying to focus on all of your problems at once.
NINE: TREAT YOUR BODY RIGHT. Taking care of your body through a proper diet, sleep and exercise is critical to promoting your mental wellness during this period. Ensure that you are eating balanced and nutritious meals, eating on time, and limiting your intake of processed carbs and sugary foods. Good nutrition is crucial for helping to balance your mood and avoid mood swings, anxiety and depressive feelings. Also ensure that you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep at night, no more and no less. Seven to nine hours is the “sweet spot” for sleep and can help minimise feelings of fatigue and grogginess during the day, and increase your ability to concentrate and make decisions. Lastly, get into a healthy exercise routine. Even if it means taking a 30-minute walk each day after work, do it. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to physical sluggishness which can translate into mental and emotional sluggishness.
I hope these nine tips prove helpful in getting you started on your journey toward promoting and maintaining your overall wellness during this time. I ensure you, if you stick to them, you will be able to weather the storm of the upcoming months with greater confidence, certainty, and hope. I wish you all of the best on your journey!
Love and Regards,
Reycine Mc Kenzie
Founder and Clinical Psychotherapist at
UPWARD Counselling and Psychological Services