How to Keep Going Despite the Huge Challenge of COVID-19
Humankind has been faced with uncertainties of unknown magnitude over the years, but COVID-19 has proved to be a catastrophic pandemic that has continued to take lives, rob peace, and rattle comfort from many people in numerous ways. In its trajectory, it has left a devastating trail of disruption of societal wellbeing, ranging from emotional, financial, transport, and social – cultural norms, that include human relatedness.
The Question is, how do we get going?
(i) Use positive affirmations or “I” statements: These are self-statements that enhance positive thought line, and help confront emotional fears and destructive cognitions. Laments can become common in times of COVID-19 as follows:
“Things are really bad….” “we are on dead end.”
“Am distressed at the loss of my job,
“the debt burden is too huge…”
“this lockdown is getting into my nerves”
A troubled mind can easily be calmed through positively affirming oneself with words such as: I am a peaceful person”.
“It’s not the worst… “
“Life is still meaningful and Am learning each day…”
“I will remain confident… and calm”
“This is a passing cloud”
Negative self-talk might rob us of our creativity and problem-solving strategies which we undoubtedly need in dealing with this COVID-19 situation. On the other hand, positive affirmation energizes and reenergizes us as to progress forward and gives strength to those around us who witness our responses to the crisis at hand.
(ii) Social support: In these troubled times, people may be tempted to isolate themselves to their own detriment, but social support adds strength and stability to individuals and communities alike (Caution: It is still possible to embrace social support even when staying at home and observing all safety guidelines).
Social isolation however might end up taking a toll on both the social and mental health due loneliness therefore heightening the risk of human dysfunction and illness.
(iii) Value family: Human beings are social creatures who love face to face interaction, enjoy being together, and working together. Both adults and children left alone might suffer stress, therefore there is need to build a strong commitment to the family. A family that is well connected enhances a sense of belonging, security, and psycho-social support towards each other. This provides a strong anchor for everyone to move on.
On the other hand, in dysfunctional and fragmented families, people become passive, reactive and alienated from each other. There is no psycho-social support, commitment, or care to the detriment of the members.
(iv) Motivation to Continue working and keeping busy in a healthy way: the saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. Human beings derive meaning and purpose from work. While majority of people are grounded and the nature of their jobs require them to be out in the field, technology has also allowed many to work at and from home. As much as possible, get involved in some activities. There are many positive ways to occupy one’s time and mind and remain clear-headed while staying in the confines of our houses.
(vi) Leisure: It takes personal discipline and perseverance to enjoy rest and leisure.
Here are some simple activities you can spend time engaging in: read and journalize, draw if you can and get yourself busy, jog on the spot, play an instrument, if you have one and create music.
Note: Do not entertain guilt feelings if you are not able to do these things for one reason or another, but do strive to be productive in your day and keep yourself positively busy. These activities will help defuse psychological stress and bring a smile to your face.
(vii) Personal Qualities: certain qualities such as openness to experience, hope and optimism, hardiness, no quit attitude and faith are important for all of us to face COVID-19 situations.
(viii) Seek Professional help: This might buffer you from negative feelings, thoughts and behaviors that might lead to more negativity and self-harming attitudes. COVID-19 is not here to stay, someday we shall look back and tell stories of this adversity may be with a smile as well as mixed feelings but the lessons learnt are meant to make us better people and to develop our resources in a better way.
Free professional counselling support services at MKU’s COMFORT platform are available at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dr. Jane G. Nyutu (Counselling Psychologist)
Mount Kenya University