As the instruction for each of us to stay at home (if we’re not one of the key workers that is keeping the NHS and vital services going) the prospect of ongoing long-term lockdown has the capacity to overwhelm our thinking. So today, I’m examining what levels of resilience and courage it’s going to take for us to go through the long haul of coming out the other side, not just well, but transformed in ways that were unthinkable before.

The power, breadth and range of our mind and faculties are so much greater than our ability to employ them, that it takes an emergency or huge crisis for us to tap into them and release them into function. We see this in nurses and doctors whose will to heal and help others, overcomes their personal fear of harm. We also see this in the three quarters of a million volunteers who’ve registered to help the NHS and government to tend to the most vulnerable at home.

Underlying them all is the quality of human love that we all share. When love is engendered, there are no bounds that can hold us back.

The innate human instinct to help and support others comes out in difficult times, so it enables us to see different sides of ourselves in crisis environments. At these times, some can become overwhelmed with fear, worry or anxiety either for themselves or those they care for, taking on at the same time, the anxiety of others and experiencing it as their own.  After all, a virus that escaped a village in China has affected the world. It gives new, concrete meaning to “we are all connected.”  Such new awareness can impact our sense of what is normal and what is in our capacity to cope.

So resilience is necessary.

Defined as an individual’s ability to adapt in the face of adverse conditions, it means having a mental outlook which allows us to work through such feelings of fear, loss, and anxiety to recover our sense of balance and wellbeing.

Resilience can be fostered and encouraged by specific actions that nurture our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. These actions are:

Taking far more rest than is normal for you. All your systems need rest and recuperation, so going to bed much earlier and sleeping later will help process out the stress hormones and build in energy reserves. Doing this consistently will enable you to manage each day better and better.

Meditating is a powerful tool to bring alignment to the body, mind and emotions, inducing feelings of calm, quiet and balance. When we are battered by escalating numbers of infections and people dying, we need to offset the external negative stimulus with internal boundaries that maintain our wellbeing. Daily meditations for at least 15 minutes will facilitate the establishment of personal boundaries and establish balance for the day. So many of us have failed to establish a meditation practise because ‘we don’t have time’. Now we do, so let’s do it, when it can make a big difference.

Saying the right things to oneself and others. Our words are powerful conveyors of reality – we can make real something that is not real, by continually saying it so. Saying one is stressed and anxious when it’s what you’re feeling is good to process it out, but continually responding by rote and not paying attention to alternative feelings, locks you into negativity. Noticing the sunshine, exercising and enjoying the endorphins that come can send us into positive emotions, which are equally helpful, and need to be acknowledged. We can collude into speaking the ‘Aint It Awful’ words that paint a negative picture of our world and times. Yes, we are in a world crisis, yes, there are thousands of people very ill and some have and will die, but the majority of us are experiencing a different and possibly a better life. Let’s not buy into the TV dramas that poor reporters are making of the news. As the Queen identified, there will be a time when the crisis is over, when we will meet again.

Our children will remember the corona virus crisis as a time when they spent the most amount of time with their parents, at home and free of school. We are all experiencing many blessings, and it is important that we acknowledge these as well. Identify these and speak them out loud. By choosing positive words, by speaking out the good that is happening, we inform our minds how we are choosing to experience this time; we are not the victim of external circumstances but can choose what we think and feel whilst we are going through this.

These are only three things that build resilience – there are others of course – but practising these three will create the most amount of positive change in oneself, helping each of us to meet the challenges of our days and nights with equanimity and balance.

 

Penny Sophocleous

7 April 2020