As we are well into our first month (over a month for many of us) of physical distancing, we’re experiencing some objectively very tough times. Coping skills we had utilized successfully before the pandemic may not be available to us right now with the closures of gyms, parks, social spaces, many therapists’ offices, and the cancelation of social events. So, how do we “adapt and overcome” to these challenging circumstances? What information is out there that can help us stay tougher than these tough times? As a therapist, I will do my best to provide some tips, along with some ramblings (as I struggle through this mess right alongside everyone else).
Our mind is a pretty magical, but also impressionable, place. I have always found that I do best when I fuel my mind with healthy and helpful information. This can come in many forms, but may include: books, podcasts, and positive news stories. Two books that I have found to be particularly helpful during these times are: Grit by Angela Duckworth and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. I encourage you to add some books to your positivity playlist. None of us are expected to have all of the answers, so being able to focus our minds on the words of others who aim to encourage us can be helpful and refreshing in a time like this. Pro Tip: audiobooks are lifesaving right now, they’re a good way to mindfully distract yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll be listening to books in the shower since that’s the only alone time away from the kiddos.
Focus on Growth
In times of panic like these, it is easy to get swept up in all of the chaos. Sometimes we even forget that good things can come from awful experiences. The concept of post-traumatic growth (PTG) is one that comes to mind here. Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, writes that post-traumatic growth happens when “humans have the ability to not only ‘bounce back’ from trauma, but to yield a positive life on the other side of a traumatic experience” (Lees, 2019). You can think of PTG as you might muscle growth. You know, like the dreaded “leg day.” Leg Day always feels like a mildly traumatic experience for me; however, the growth I am able to achieve with consistency and persistence eventually outweighs the pain.
How great would it be if we were able to come back from all of this stronger and with a newfound sense of self. This is something that takes time as well as acceptance. We must accept that we can’t get to the other side of the storm without going through the storm, but imagine how beautiful of a day it might be when we are able to reach the other side with the strength that pulled us through.
Find Glimmers of Hope
Another way to stay mentally tough these days is to find something — anything — to hope for. Even the smallest amount of hope can be the tiny light we need in a dark place. Hope helps us to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you’re feeling down, or are looking to create a daily habit to stay mentally tough, try listing the things that give you hope.
For example, some things that continuously give me hope include:
- The medical professionals and scientists on the frontlines are working tirelessly to keep all of us safe.
- The kindness of total strangers during times of great difficulty.
- The magic in my toddler’s eyes. For him, this is all one big adventure.
There is no single right way of finding strength and toughness during these unprecedented times. What works for me may not work for you, but I strongly encourage you to dig in and at least try some of these suggestions. The challenge presented by the coronavirus pandemic is a time when we need to be solution finders, and I absolutely believe in our collective resolve. And when you find something that works for you, share the good news. Check out the hashtag #PassThePositivity and visit us on Instagram to keep the good vibes and mental toughness flowing!
If you’re looking to work through complicated feelings during this time with a licensed professional, get connected with an online therapist today.