Resilience in Anxious Covid-19 Times

The word anxiety with cover symbols points our fears and as we cultivate Resilience in Anxious Covid-19 Times

“Most people prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty”

Virginia Satir

Resilience in Anxious Covid-19 Times is needed to help us get through the unknown. I wish I could reassure you that certainty was something you could always have at your disposal. Actually, I can, just not the way you might be thinking in these incredibly uncertain times. I will share something we all know deep down that is difficult for most of us to acknowledge. Uncertainty and change are inevitable so finding a way to accept them, though challenging, will ultimately bring us the most peace of mind.

Resilience in Anxious Covid-19 Times

We are all having to deal with adversity right now, a kind of covid-19 anxiety. How we come back from this will be the essence of our future resilient stories. Fortunately, there are things we can do to build our emotional hygiene and help us accept and adjust to current and future anxiety. Anxiety itself tends to be future-focused. If we looked at our lives honestly, how much of our experience were we certain about. Did most of us even know what our careers would be or the work we would do even though we may have had at least an inclination of an area of interest? We live with not knowing all the time. This doesn’t mean we like it, but we can make it way worse by speculating how it will turn out. Paraphrasing the old Mark Twain line,

“I’ve had some horrible things happen to me in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Mark Twain

Our minds are built to protect us and many of ours are on overdrive right now with this unprecedented virus that is impacting all of us. Coping with anxiety has many variables for individuals based on genetics and lived experiences. There are, however, very important resources available to all of us that can help reduce anxiety. Simply by changing our awareness of how our minds and bodies work and subsequently how we look at our anxiety can profoundly improve how we feel.

Our minds are built to protect us and they do not like it when they cannot figure things out. The unknowns of the virus have triggered all ( except possibly a few monks).

Remember to Breathe

Using our breath and pausing to name the thoughts and body sensations we are having can help. This simple act (harder than you think) gives us the chance to put some distance between our anxious thoughts and feelings. If we practice this small act, at least once a day, for even ten minutes and get better at it, we improve. This exercise re-programs our mind and helps promote calming awareness.

Remember the Twain quote as we imagine many scenarios that likely will not happen. This gives us a chance to focus instead on more realistic and positive thoughts and feelings. Staying with those and allowing them to wash over us can help each time unreasonable anxiety inevitably rears its head.

Developing a mindful attitude or disposition can help us manage even the most difficult of circumstances.It is key in building resilience in annxious Covid-19 times. If we can focus and concentrate during adversity, we have the opportunity to choose actions that are closer to our values. Improving our mindfulness skills can also help us be more compassionate not only with ourselves but with others as well. We might be better able to understand what is behind a behavior we may not like or feel comfortable with. By trying to be non-judgmental we reduce our stress and stay open to helping others.

Many of us get hung up on the meditation part of mindfulness. But even informal practice and breathing is helpful. The breath has been researched for millennia. It is our remote control. As a former college athlete, I can tell you breath was the key to remaining poised and bouncing back from adversity. Athletes have to respond to failure repeatedly. Without the proper use of the breath our focus and concentration comes and goes without guidance. Since we are all stuck at home more than most of us usually are, why not try some new things.

At we have developed blogs, links, and courses to help you through these difficult times. Developing our resilience can build emotional muscle to help us not only with the current crisis but with the inevitable challenges we all have ahead-with or without the virus. Since we can’t go to the gym, go instead to your mental gym. It’s always open and interesting if you’re willing!

All the best and resiliently yours, Jim

Jim McElrath, LCSW-R is a licensed mental health therapist in the state of New York