All of us have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps due to the loss of a job, or even the loss of loved ones. Certainly because of the loss of our former lives. Nothing seems stable.
Even the most fortunate may have had sleepless nights worrying about “what if?”. We’ve watched the graphs, seen the plight of those who in some way — illness, employment, housing, etc — have fallen victim to the virus. There is plenty of heartache to go around.
That is where resilience plays a vital part.
Resilience is not about ignoring problems, but about remembering that something can be done, even if that something is only getting through the worst of times. It’s about finding strength. It’s about discovering hope.
Adapting, working through difficulties, and developing new managing strategies are all part of resilience.
It’s easy for the mind to become hooked into obsessive thinking in times of crisis. It becomes harder to see possibilities and more difficult to connect with others. The daily realities of the pandemic can play into some of our worst fears and increase the sense of isolation.
These mental responses to crises are very natural. But they cause more distress and block solutions. So how do you move past them?
Firstly, a lot of evidence suggests mental resilience can be built through mindfulness.
A number of meditation apps can help you clear your mind of stress and visualise more positive outcomes.
It’s also important not to hide from your negative feelings. When you feel flooded with negative thoughts, own them. When you say your thoughts out loud and talk through them, they lose their power. State your negative thought, think about where it comes from, and find three positive alternative thoughts.
Don’t forget that the body is connected to the mind. Deep breathing helps calm the central nervous system. Daily exercise is a natural stress reliever. Get out for walks or try a streamed exercise class. Prioritise sleep, healthy eating and exercise.
Talk to others
Having someone who cares about you to confide in is enormously important. Obviously, family is crucial here but not all families can support each other in the idealised way we often see in movies.
Work on building a support network of empathetic and compassionate people – including your family but also friends, colleagues and people who share similar interests and passions. This is a time to find new ways of connecting. Think of the chalk-written messages on footpaths and the teddy bears in windows.
Remember, you’re not the only one brought low by the virus and its effect on our daily lives. Be understanding when others are low. There’s been a lot of change to deal with at once. The emotional impact is huge and unexpected.
Thankfully, we now live in a society where it’s more ok to admit that we don’t always feel in control of our lives.
Back on track
The horizons of our daily lives, our ability to travel and interact freely have suddenly been limited. Anxiety and distress are normal responses to such extreme circumstances. But there are ways to move beyond those emotions and find strength. Let’s look briefly at some areas of concern.
Money is a source of much stress – even in ‘normal’ times. The most valuable thing you can do in the face of COVID-19 is focus on control. Work out your finances. Work out the things you can and can’t do without. You might be surprised. There’s also value in reassessing not only expenses, but lifestyle choices. Are there new and better (and maybe cheaper) ways to find joy?
It’s only natural to question our skills and abilities, particularly when we are faced with an uncertain future. It may not feel like it, but these times can also bring opportunity. It could be a time to discover new passions - or resurrect old ones. Perhaps this is a time to study in your chosen field. But it doesn’t have to be something ‘worthy’. Anything which reinvigorates you and reminds you that you are a multi-faceted person with many skills and interests, can be worthwhile. And if you should find yourself baking twenty loaves of sourdough, who can say that hasn’t helped?
MLC's MyCoach service can help you
Well-being involves far more than money and we want to support our members during this extraordinary time.
Through MyCoach until 31 December 2020, you can access three independent, professional counselling sessions to help manage challenging issues and enhance emotional well-being.
You can arrange to meet with a clinician either face-to-face, via phone, video or online LiveChat. Please call 1300 574 759 to speak with a Benestar Clinician.
Important information and disclaimer
This article has been prepared by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633 AFSL 236465 (NULIS) as trustee of the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024. The information in this article is current as at 31 July 2020 and may be subject to change. This information may constitute general advice. The information in this article is factual in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions based on this information. You should not rely on this article to determine your personal tax obligations. Please consult a registered tax agent for this purpose. An investment with NULIS is not a deposit with, or liability of, and is not guaranteed by NAB or other members of the NAB Group. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Subject to terms implied by law and which cannot be excluded, neither NULIS nor any member of the NAB Group accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in the information in this communication. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of an investment may rise or fall with the changes in the market.