It’s been over a year since the world changed. The discovery of a virus which snowballed into a global pandemic has turned the world upside down. Countries have implemented different stages of lockdown and even with the hope of vaccination in a lot of places, the paranoia and anxiety is still high.
The most daunting thing about the coronavirus and all that has come with it is that at every stage, no one really knows what to expect. It’s like we are all on a long path and can't see the end but we know that we must keep moving anyway. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
We have lost loved ones along the way. We are experiencing swift changes that keep occurring as one tries to adjust to the last one. We are running a marathon but we have no idea where the road ends. How do we keep going on a marathon with no apparent end in sight?
To stay sane in these times, we have to build mental toughness, stamina. This means that we need to build our minds so we can react positively and pace ourselves. With mental toughness, the keyword is ‘how’. How are you processing the situation? How are you reacting to it? How are you aligning your mind and environment to best serve you in the circumstances?
Let’s rumble with some tips. First, stay optimistic and know that you are not alone in this race. We are all running this marathon and optimism is the fuel that propels us to plan for a future that we may not understand. One key element of optimism is to ensure that one is charging the soul battery with positive messages most of the day. Everyone charges their batteries differently, identify the things that work for you and plug in at various intervals. Listening to positive podcasts, inspiring lectures, reading great books, exercise, spirituality, seeing friends outdoors in parks with social distancing, bonding with family and friends, approaching a work or social zoom call creatively, comedy, the list goes on... Different strokes for different folks. It helps to keep you up and it helps you to help others and yourself when you are down. We have all been down atimes. We will all be up and down from time to time. Undulating. It was always so, there was just more distraction during the lows previously. Now we have to face them head on. Nowhere to go. It could be a good thing to finally process some dark thoughts and emotions. Get to the root of things. It could be liberating. Every cloud has a silver lining.
If you want to minimise the lows, we suggest that you limit your intake of the news. You don’t need more than 5 minutes of it to catch up with the latest updates. Let’s call a spade a spade, news is often negative, it brings you down and stirs up fear if you consume too much of it. One can get addicted to this feeling of fear and anxiety as it is an intense emotion that gets adrenaline and cortisol hormones going. Find alternative, more positive ways to experience intense emotion. Get involved in philanthropic work that gives you a buzz when you know a positive change has been made. It also takes you outside yourself, and boy is it nice to get away from the ego.
Second, you have to understand your deep reasons. What matters to you and why? As you figure this out, do your best to develop and nurture these things. See this pandemic with all its stress and negative aspects as an opportunity for growth also. Be determined to come out of it a better person. And come out of it we will. Have conviction that we will see the end of this, it will propel you forward to keep going every day.
Third, while you are running this race, focus on the things you can control. These are the things in your immediate environment, your family time, your fun breaks and your little moments of joy. Curate them. These things help you build endurance as you make your way through the forest of uncertainty and continue your marathon. As you run, don’t forget to take breaks regularly and recharge. You need them.
Last but not least, understand that there is no right or wrong way to find strength in these times. Understand your mind and do what is best for your own mental health. Know that we are all in this together and be intentional about building mental toughness.