6 Tangible Ways To Remain Emotionally Resilient During The Coronavirus
Amid the global pandemic, strengthening our resilience muscle has never been so important—in a time of uncertainty and crisis, it's more crucial now than ever to remain mentally and emotionally tough.
That's exactly why we consulted Ryan Holiday, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestselling Stillness Is the Key, on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. Holiday frequently finds inspiration from people who remain resilient and endure the unexpected (it's why he's so drawn to philosophers, as many were exiled or ostracized from society). When asked how we can strengthen our resilience during this time, he quotes Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield: "There are six things that I could do right now, all of which will help make things better. There's no problem so bad that you can't make it worse."
With respect to Hadfield, Holiday discovers six things we can do right now to help make the time of the coronavirus "better," particularly for your mental health. These tips can help you endure the uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic; who knows—you might even emerge from the experience a stronger, more self-aware being.
1. Stay in your home.
You've heard it all over news outlets and social media feeds: Stay home!
The first step in Holiday's plan is to follow the CDC guidelines to a T. Before you can focus on personal growth and alleviating anxiety, you have to make sure you're following necessary protocol to keep yourself physically safe. If you're going to follow any of Holiday's tips, let this be it.
2. Limit news consumption to only what's new.
We've heard time and time again to limit our news sources to only a few trusted outlets; Holiday takes it a step further by saying we should limit our news to only what is actually "new."
"Make sure when you're consuming information, it's not just telling you more of what you already know, which is that things are scary and bad," Holiday tells me. We know the crisis is still happening, we know we should still stay home and wash our hands, and we know to expect the pandemic to last for a while—when news sources are constantly telling us what we know, it may cause even more frustration and anxiety over what we can't control.
Rather, stick to news that may change what you're supposed to be doing day-to-day. Is there a new CDC update? A new way to donate? Keep your news fresh, and you won't feel that anxiety-inducing information overload that has afflicted so many.
3. Do what you can for others.
"Limit not just your own interactions, but try to limit other people's," Holiday says. For example, see what you can do for an at-risk neighbor to limit the number of times they have to leave their home. Can you pick up groceries for them, or perhaps a prescription? Do what you can—of course the No. 1 priority is to stay safe, but try to help others who may need it the most.
4. Keep those around you safe.
This is a tricky one, especially if you're dealing with a partner or family member who's not taking the coronavirus seriously. For Holiday, it was having conversations with his mother to make sure she wouldn't go visit his grandmother in her retirement home. For you, it might be advising a family member not to leave home, or it might be FaceTiming a friend to make sure they're getting enough social connection.
"Think about who we have the most influence over, and start there," says Holiday. "Less tweeting and more getting your house in order."
5. Focus on how you can be productive.
Thinking about how you can use this time for personal growth can help meaning come out of this suffering, says Holiday. One way to procure meaning out of this experience is to be positive about how this time can help you be productive with fewer interruptions or distractions.
"Use this time to do the things that are hard to do in a busy, normal life when you have to run errands or have meetings," Holiday suggests. "It's an opportunity to reflect, think big picture, reevaluate, and question things we might be afraid to think about." While DIY home projects can be a fun way to overcome any boredom, using this time for a personal deep-dive might be more beneficial long term.
6. Emerge knowing life is fragile.
Finally, Holiday wants us to learn that we are not as invincible as we may think. The harsh reality of COVID-19 has made mortality real for many; according to Holiday, we might not really understand how fragile life is until the threat of death is hanging right in our faces. When we emerge from this experience, let that notion help you realize what's truly important in this life.
"Life doesn't care about your plans," Holiday adds. "You can leave life right now; let that determine what you say and think."
Follow Holiday's six-step plan, and you might emerge from this time a stronger, more resilient being. It's important to note here that being resilient is not mutually exclusive with being afraid, upset, or anxious. As most philosophers would say, resilience is not about the fact that you get scared; it's what you do after you get scared or despite being scared that offers real insight into who you are.