02 Aug Emotional Resilience in the Wake of Pandemic
Emotional Resilience in the Wake of Pandemic
On November 17, 2019, a 55-year-old individual from Hubei province of China, as anticipated was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus Covid-19 also called SARS-CoV-2 (source: firstpost). How s/he got infected is a controversial topic but, since then day life has not been the same as it was before that. Around 148 Million people have got infected with the virus worldwide and 3.1 Million innocent lives have been lost as on April, 28th’21 (Source: Pharmaceutical Technology). This pandemic has been the cause of stress for many people around the world. Some have lost their loved ones, some have lost their jobs, and some are suffering mentally due to endless restrictions and lockdowns.
On the other hand, scientists have done a tremendous job developing the vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccine for this virus is the fastest ever to be developed. Scientists went from identifying a new pathogen, the coronavirus, and discovering an immune response against it and successfully developing and testing a safe and effective vaccine for it in less than 12 months. It’s a remarkable achievement of medical science to develop a vaccine for a deadly virus in such a short time.
But the real issue of vaccination lies in the logistics and distribution part. How fast do you think we can vaccinate the whole population on the planet? That’s the mind-boggling question. We’re already observing a stark difference in the vaccination numbers around the world. Some countries have already vaccinated up to 60% of their population but some have not even administrated a single dose. That’s due to the reason that many wealthy countries struck a deal with the companies developing vaccines for deliveries of first batches in exchange for funding their research of vaccine development. While rich countries are hoarding much of the world’s vaccines, many poor countries have currently secured little to no doses for their entire population. This is better explained in a New York Times article, How Rich Countries Got to the Front of the Vaccine Line’ (Collins & Holder, 2021).
Even after all the progress in vaccine development, the recent news that cases are climbing worldwide and deaths are also increasing every day is scary. During the initial days, it was at its peak in China. Then it wracked havoc in the USA, Brazil, Italy, and the epicenter these days is in India, where 300,000+ new cases and up to 3000 deaths have being reported every day dated 21st April’21(Source: The Hindu). If you look at the number today i.e 8th May’21, NDTV has reported 4.187 Covid Deaths in India & 4.01 lakh new cases.
There have also been reports of oxygen and bed shortages in India due to which the death rate is climbing every day and according to some sources, the death toll is even higher than being reported. The reason behind the sharp increase in cases is the lack of preventive measures among the masses and relaxed restrictions in recent months.
The health system in many countries is under massive pressure due to the rising influx of covid-19 patients worldwide and it clearly shows we were not prepared for a pandemic on this scale. We need to show resilience to overcome these hard times and resilience is something that’s built over time according to the things we experience, the setbacks we suffer, and our ability to stay calm during tough times.
With there being no sign that the pandemic is going to end anytime soon, we need to prepare ourselves for the worst, just in case. Looking at the way things are going at the rate now; you might not be wrong to think we are not going to survive this pandemic. But hey, a little positivity and imbibing optimism doesn’t hurt. After all, humanity has been through many similar, and probably worst of pandemics and wars. We have all survived through the hard times in the past and we will probably survive this pandemic too. Given that we follow adequate safety measures and stay positive.
Although some people are born more resilient and emotionally brave, others are not, but the beauty of emotional resilience is that people can work towards enhancing this aspect. Therefore, building on the factors that promote emotional resilience can be highly useful. That is to understand what is really in our control and what is not & how we can adapt to the changing circumstances. When we are internally motivated to face the storm and rise above it, regardless of the consequences. So, it doesn’t really mean fighting and winning a situation, it just means winning over the situations by not giving into the pressure it creates.
According to Dr Barry’s famous book, ‘Emotional Resilience: How to Safeguard Your Mental Health’, personal skills, social skills and life skills are the three subsets to building emotional resilience. Our personal skills include our ability to bring in self-acceptance, being empathetic, being able to manage our emotional burnout. Whereas, social skills are those that talk about the interaction of ourselves with the environment and vice versa. Thus, looking at successful interpersonal interaction. Life skills, on the other hand are a concoction of all the skills; personal, social, cognitive abilities that work together in helping us manage stress, resolving conflicts, helping us integrate work and life otherwise.
Here are a few tips to build emotional resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially;
1- Beat the Stress
The first and foremost thing we need to do is keep ourselves stress-free. Stress is what eats us from the inside. If you’re under stress, you won’t be able to sleep properly, take correct decisions etc. Panic, stress, and worrying are our natural responses to threats and situations like these but stressing ourselves is not going to help and we need to stay calm. Involving activities that can keep stress at bay can help us adapt to different sources of stress and also help us manage this collective trauma. Consciously being selective of the news, keeping in touch via video and phone calls with friends and family, being able to keep the grudges away and staying involved with your people, going back to things that have been long pending for you could help you cope up with the lost hours, planning on some breathing exercises to be able to centre your feelings and thoughts. If we can learn to manage and keep situations separate from our experience, we can make our life much easier during times like these. Also, maintaining our regularity and routine amidst the troubled circumstances can help us manage emotions well.
Find a downloadable resource to a simple breathing exercise that you can incorporate in your daily life, Click here
2-Take Safety Measures
One of the most important things we need to do to keep ourselves safe is taking ‘safety measures’ as advised by the relevant health authorities or the government. The most commonly followed measures are wearing a ‘double’ mask, even while you plan on having your evening tea in the balcony or front-yard. It is a must. Who would’ve thought that things like a mask would become a part of the daily life of a common man? Sad but that’s the reality. We also need to avoid close contact with people, touching random surfaces outside, and ensuring that we are sanitizing and washing our hands frequently to stay safe. This calls for physically distancing ourselves from our parents, grandparents; knowing that it is safe for them and us both. Working on this guilt will allow you to think practically about taking precautions.
Here is a printable to download, which you can paste around for your kids to follow as a reminder, click here
Please note: wearing a double mask is a mandate.
3-Look After Yourself
A very common saying, self-care is not selfish reminds us that it is for everyone. Self-care has always proven to be the best way to survive crucial times and this pandemic is no exception. Adding some sources of self-care and not just for indulgence but really profound self-care such as creating a routine, sleeping on time, not giving in that one extra episode on Netflix, exercising; something that really keeps your hormones in check can be extremely fruitful in balancing your emotions. Eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising daily seem like every day routine but the role they play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is often underestimated. Many people have lost track of their life just because they stopped caring for themselves. Make sure you’re not one of them!
4-Work on Developing/Learning New Skills
As they say, it’s never too late to learn something new. You can use this time to enhance your skill-set by learning something new that might keep you busy and free of any negative thoughts and might even earn you some bucks in the long term. Like taking an online course, learning zumba or writing an e-book, like whatever works out for you. Even, building on a simple habit of reading.
Instead of just sitting around, ensure to utilize this time to learn something. Here are few links that could help you structure your idea of learning: www.coursera.com, www.udemy.com, www.cure.fit, www.upwork.com, www.unacademy.com
5- Be Grateful
It’s a rewarding practice to be thankful even during the hardest of times. Just think of how many people are dying every day due to COVID or even when there was no covid, people were dying due to poverty, terrorism, hunger etc. Gratitude helps us focus on the things we have and keep us away from grouching about things that we don’t. You should be thankful that you are alive and healthy when the whole world is in an uncertain state. This call for your effort to spread positivity around by being grateful.
Gratitude is the purest form of wisdom-oriented practice. It makes you wise, kind and remorse free. Here, I have added a downloadable resource of a basic gratitude pdf, which you can fill in at any point every day. It surely will make you feel good and at peace. Click here
This aspect is the most essential part in building your emotional resilience. Self-awareness is about knowing who we are and why we are who we are. To simplify it, if you can identify the cause behind your action or behavior and identify the resulting consequence, you can work better on your intra and interpersonal connections. Situations are inevitable, but the meaning we give to those situations in our thoughts lead us towards an emotion and finally an action. So, imagine, how much can becoming self-aware do it us. It can help us control, manage and convert our reactions to healthy responses. Therefore, saving us a deal of getting stuck in a negative loop, look at our relationships more constructively, save us from misunderstanding and misjudgment of our situations around, have a healthy inner dialogue. Here you can find a simple practice sheet, to work on becoming self-aware, Click here
7- Watch Out for Your Mental Health
Even after doing everything mentioned above or suggested by local authorities, if you think this is too much for you to handle, seek professional help as soon as possible. You might be missing going out with your friends, meeting your family/relatives, worried due to your current financial position, unable to deal with the long-distance relationship or having difficulty concentrating on your work. But you must understand that it’s normal and mental health is for all. Therefore, seeking professional help in the form of counselling or therapy can really help you understand yourself and help you build your coping mechanisms, regardless of age, gender, occupation.
You can take these small steps to help yourself build the edge of emotional resilience, to survive this crisis or any future hardships.
In any case, we should still be prepared if things go south. After all, we are all humans, filled with emotions and all we can do is try and hope for the best. We should also try to help others who are struggling by supporting them in any way we can or by helping them reach out or by guiding them in seeking professional help such as counselling if the overwhelm is becoming unbearable for them. It’s a time when we all need to support each other, while also following the safety protocols. Not giving in the collective fear, rather building collective emotional resilience for the greater good is the need of the hour.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe!
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