The Washington Post published an article about scientific-based tips for emotional resilience in combating COVID. In publications everywhere, for the past year, we saw advice on every aspect of surviving COVID. Now that we (in the US) are turning a page with illness and vaccination rates, I wonder where everyone is, emotionally, and how we’re all adapting to the fact that now it’s time to adapt again. So I wanted to re-use WaPo’s tips and apply them to adjusting to a post-pandemic life.
However You’re Feeling, It’s Okay
As the world returns to normal, some people most certainly are still feeling the after-effects of the trauma we’ve all just experienced. We can rely on our emotional resilience to get rid of these negative, low-frequency emotions, and return to our normal (or new normal) lives with enthusiasm and ready to love life, no matter what – and science has quite a bit to say about this.
“Humans find comfort and safety in the predictability of the routines of daily living,” said John Forsyth, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany in New York and co-author of “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders.” When he wrote this, Dr. Forsyth was referring to our lives being turned inside out due to the global pandemic. And now, as we awake from this, we are once again being asked to flip our lives around, back to normal.
We are going back to our offices, our parks are reopening, our favorite lunch spots have more seating now – and somewhere inside of us, we feel unsettled and unsure. This is the effect change has on our emotional state, and sometimes the result can be anxiety, depression, fear, or all three. Some of us will go back to an office where co-workers won’t be returning. Some of us aren’t quite ready to jump back into our weekly lunches or Saturday morning group runs at the park.
So how do we curb these emotions that can be paralyzing? How can we establish normal on our own terms?
Let’s Break It Down
Step one, according to the Washington Post, is to accept these negative emotions, and I couldn’t agree more. Running from our feelings, positive or negative, means we don’t face them, and when we don’t face them, we have trouble ever moving beyond them. We build resilience by overcoming difficult phases in life, and that includes states of emotion that we grow beyond.
Step two, once you’ve accepted these emotions and moved on (hello, emotional resilience!) is to create new routines… and I couldn’t love this more. You all know how I feel about rituals and how important it is to have these daily habits and routines, so you can connect or reconnect to the things in life that are meaningful to you. If you used this pandemic as a time to connect with yourself and evaluate life in general, routines are a way to put what you’ve learned into action.
Step three, according to Ilyse DiMarco, a clinical psychologist at the North Jersey Center for Anxiety and Stress Management, is all about self-care. For me, this is a daily practice (see step two) and this is how we can all consistently curb anxiety and those negative emotions we’re talking about. Mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual resilience, all come from an established healthy living routine. Run, walk, schedule phone calls or Facetime chats, join a book club, book an exercise class, eat well… self-care can look however you need it to, just as long as you make time for it.
Step four, get out in nature. The effects of spending time in nature are now scientifically documented. Whether you are kayaking, swimming, walking, hiking, biking or gardening, science tells us you’ll experience lower risks of mental distress and even mortality. Add to that less anxiety, better sleep, more confidence and even better immunity, the case for some sunshine seems pretty solid.
Welcome back to post-pandemic life. This is your opportunity to look at every single thing you’ve built into your life and decide if it should stay or go. Use this pivot to build a life you know you will love, no matter what.
And don’t forget to let me know how it’s going – I personally read every single comment below.