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How to Thrive in a Pandemic

We’re just over the half-way mark of 2020 and oh my goodness, never in my wildest dreams did I for one moment imagine that this was the year we would find ourselves living through a global pandemic that’s turned lives and livelihoods upside down and changed the world forever.

It’s changed what we worry about and altered our perception of what’s really important.

As a wake-up call, it’s worked like a blunderbuss jolting us out of staying stuck in overwork, high levels of stress and struggling to keep up with the demands of modern life. Is that true for you?

Has accessing hand sanitiser (and loo rolls) become a higher priority than planning your next overseas holiday? Is staying employed to pay the bills now more important than buying more material goods?

If anxiety has become your middle name you may have found yourself lost in survival mode where every day, anxious thoughts about your health, your family, your financial security and the future loom large. Operating in this zone over a period of time creates an undercurrent of fear that never leaves, and it’s exhausting.

So, how are you faring?

The way forward is to seek a way that encompasses all the good our humanity provides, to come together as one and reset to thrive. This can be achieved by taking better care of ourselves both physically and mentally, tuning in to what makes us feel happier and nurturing those relationships that matter the most.

If you’re wondering where best to start, let’s start at the beginning by recognising how things are for you right now and how you would like them to be different and here are five steps to help you on your journey to fully thrive.

 

1. Acceptance

This is hard. When the pandemic was made ‘official’ I hadn’t spent any time considering what impact that would have on my own life and business beyond the worry of the catching Covid-19. When the phone stopped ringing other than to cancel bookings, I realised my business as it was, was no more. It was time to quickly assess the damage and consider my next step. Accepting loss while painful provides us with the means to reflect on three things.

What’s really important to you?
What’s your purpose?
What gives you joy?

Loss is a normal part of life and grief is a normal reaction to it conjuring up a mixture of emotions from sadness to gratitude for what you had before. When you can feel grateful for what you still have, you’ve moved towards acceptance of your reality.

 

2. Enable self-care

During lockdown, being stuck at home trying hard to work, home-school the kids and retain your sanity is a challenge – let alone keeping up with all your usual routine for exercise and healthy eating. Maintaining those healthy habits is a priority for a stronger immune system, general health and mental wellbeing. High levels of anxiety can make it difficult to stay focused, to sleep well or eat properly and puts you at higher risk of depression.

Self-care is never selfish.
I’ll say that again in case you weren’t listening.

Self-care is never selfish because it enables you to stay at the top of your game and looking forwards. It’s time to prioritise time for you to undertake what you know keeps you well, whether it’s getting 30 minutes to get outside for a walk, keeping to a regular going to bedtime or choosing not to have that extra glass or three of wine in the evening. It’s those small conscious choices of self-care that build resilience over time.

 

3. Help someone else

Coming together in times of adversity, doing our bit to serve our community not only binds us closer to each other, but it also helps to alleviate some of the stress you may have been experiencing. When everyone is doing it tough, reaching out to assist those you see are finding it hard to cope is a win-win for all. The recipient is grateful and that warm glow of knowing you’ve done something for someone else makes you feel good too.

Whether you choose to donate your time to a social cause, help an elderly neighbour with their shopping or reach out to a colleague who is feeling down, to lend your support, you are adding to the social good where everyone looks out for each other, and there’s enormous power in that.

 

4. Adopt the thriver’s mindset

When things go wrong, as inevitably they do sometimes, it’s easy to feel angry, frustrated or sad. These are normal emotions to experience in the moment, but they are not so helpful for building your future. Your choice of mindset is nurtured by your belief system and experience. If you’ve been brought up to believe that it’s only the rich and talented that achieve success, that you’re always the loser, or that life and love aren’t fair, your fixed beliefs will keep you stuck in victimhood. If you’re willing to explore, to dip your toe into the sea of uncertainty to see what opportunity lies beyond, you’re more open to new ideas, less afraid of failure and more willing to give something new a try.

As survivors in a storm we give thanks we made it. The thriver in the storm gives thanks and then asks what can they do to upskill, reset, reach out and rebuild?

 

5. Seek the silver lining

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” were the immortal words spoken by Sir Winston Churchill as World War Two drew to an end. The pandemic has redrawn the normal around how we live, play and work.

For many, the opportunity to work from home has been a blessing and many employers are now reimagining a workforce where many more work from home either permanently or in a blended mix of home and office.

Not having to commute has allowed many to engage in other activities like going for a morning walk or jog or spend more time with partners and family.

Others have taken up new hobbies or acquired a pet. Home cooking and baking have become fun things to do. Sourdough starters and home-grown veggies are now regular topics of conversation.

Some have taken the opportunity to reskill signing up for courses to further develop their career or choose to change to a job that feels more fulfilling.

What has been your silver lining and how will you utilise that to help you thrive?

 

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind (Wiley) is now available for pre-order.

 

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