Right now more than ever our mindsets need to be working for us not against us. Here are four areas I believe cannot be missed if you want to mentally survive a pandemic.
Be aware of your thoughts
We have around 70,000 thoughts a day with 95% of them being the same as the day before, so building awareness of our thoughts is crucial. During times of struggle often our patterns of thinking can slip into catastrophising. We fall into the trap of focusing on the worst-case scenarios. Our minds can lead us into a space of fear and worry. This creates stress and anxiety. This cuts off our access to the logical part of our brain, and therefore the cycle continues.
We may also become overly critical of ourselves. Maybe we feel like we aren’t handling the situation as well as others, we aren’t doing ‘enough’; we ‘shouldn’t’ be feeling the way we are. These thoughts kick us when we’re down and spiral our body into an unhelpful state.
When it comes to our thoughts we need to practise noticing when they aren’t helpful and recognising we have a choice over where our focus goes. We can be critical of ourselves or we can choose to have more kindness and self-compassion. We can constantly think about all the horrible things that might happen or we can keep our attention on the present moment and remind ourselves of the facts of the given situation.
Becoming aware of the thoughts you are having puts you back in the driving seat and helps you create new connections that support and serve, as opposed to destroy and disempower.
Acknowledge your Emotions
People talk about ‘just be positive’ but when we are in the midst of a pandemic it’s not helpful to deny the current reality. Doing so leads to a false sense of being OK that creates a disconnect between the mind and body. True strength is being able to ‘go there’ with tough emotions, and to understand by doing so they will pass.
When we try to pretend we don’t feel them we create a block and actually stay stuck in them much longer. Resilience isn’t about not having tough times; it’s about being able to ride the wave when it’s difficult and support yourself through to the other side.
Feed your mindset
Now more than ever it’s vital you create strong boundaries around what you allow into your consciousness. You have the option to keep binge watching the news, filling your mind with the horror stories of what’s happening, or you can decide to take control over what you feed your brain.
By all means watch the news, but be intentional with when and for how long. Notice if it starts to become too much, We need to keep informed but we don’t need to be constantly reading about increased death rates and worries for the future.
Now is the time to dust off those personal development books, listen to podcasts and choose to consume information that will strengthen your mindset. Our Reticular Activating System is designed to hone in on what we focus on most. If you choose to consume worry and fear that’s what you will see more of.
Be aware of your beliefs
If you carry the belief you can’t cope, that you are hopeless, then guess what? That’s exactly how you will show up in the world during a pandemic. You will crumble underneath the enormity and you will believe it’s impossible for you to get through it. As an alternative you can build the belief you are strong and you CAN get through this. Remind yourself of all the times you have faced difficulties and come out the other side. Decide to highlight all the resources and abilities you do have and understand how to develop them even further.
The brain will always seek information to prove our beliefs so whether you think you can’t or you can, you will prove yourself right.