Resilience is something I don’t usually lack—so why am I feeling anxiety and worry? The unprecedented lockdown conditions and uncertainly of what lies ahead after these times, have caused many of us to feel anxiety and worry—and quite rightly so. There are no predetermined rules for the intensity of the emotions we might feel; we don’t need to be preforming a particular role, or be in a specific working environment to experience them.
I consider myself to be a resilient person; to be grounded; focused on dealing with what’s in front of me; not getting anxious or worrying about those things I’m not able to do anything about; very much focusing on my ‘circle of influence’ rather than being bogged down in a ‘circle of concern’. But the past few weeks have seen me experience a rollercoaster of emotions, completely at odds with my ‘normal’ self.
When I’ve been back into a more rational state, I’ve tried to make sense of what’s been happening to me; why I’ve been feeling this way and how can I rebuild my resilience. I’ve tried to think if there’s ever been a time in my life when I’ve also felt these emotions; ideas to help me manage myself and think of some coping strategies. I think if you can acknowledge and recognise how and why you’re experiencing certain emotions, you can begin to look for ways to take care of yourself and develop the capacity to cope with how you’re feeling.
The Five Stages of Loss
In my lifetime there hasn’t been a time or event that has been so totally overwhelming, or so far reaching on such a global scale, as this pandemic lockdown. But there has been a time for me when my ‘normal resilience’ ceased to be. A time I was faced with real uncertainty in terms of what my physical future might look like. I had a real sense of loss and a fear about what my new ‘normal’ might look and feel like; of not being in control; being angry at what had been taken away from me and the changes that I needed to make to be able to live my life. It took me some time to be able to think rationally about what does ‘normal’ mean and to accept that ‘This Is’ my new ‘normal’.
My reflection has led me to recognise that the feelings and experience of that time in my life very much mirror those emotions I’m having in the current climate of uncertainty. At that time I was introduced to the Five Stages of Loss (from Kubler-Ross and Kessler’s book “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss”), which gave me a means to explain how and why I was feeling this way. As it did then, this model has helped me to make sense of what I have, and at times am still, experiencing in this current climate.
You might not necessarily experience these stages in either a linear or cyclical way; it is possible, as I have found, to move backwards, forwards and to jump stages. The stages may come and go — and may even repeat themselves.
Using the Stages of Loss has helped me to realise that I am grieving for my loss of my ‘normal’ and that it’s ok to be feeling these emotions.
Focusing on Resilience as part of my well-being
There are a number of other ideas to support our well-being especially during the pandemic lockdown. But being able to put a name and explanation to what I’m feeling and experiencing has enabled me to think of ways to recover my resilience and restore some of my toughness.
I’ve looked at this from three perspectives:
- Vitality is about making sure that I have sufficient energy both mentally and physically to cope. It’s about remembering that I’m not a machine and that I need to have clear boundaries between work and personal mode. It’s about managing the varying demands of my day and making time for things that I enjoy doing. And it’s about rewarding myself and celebrating even the little things that I achieve.
- Support is about staying connected to not only provide support for others in my network of friends, family and work colleagues, but also to get the support I need whether that is social interaction or some other kind of support. It’s about being non-judgemental and more forgiving of people’s moods and their messages; remembering they too may be feeling unsettled or angry or some other emotion relating to their sense of loss.
- Composure is about recognising our emotions and managing them. It’s about acknowledging that negative and positive emotions are contagious. So I’m trying not to infect others with my emotions when I’m feeling anxious or worrying; and also looking to model optimism, hopefulness and confidence in the future when I’m feeling more positive.
“When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose.”
“…live courageously with more kindness for yourself and for others.
…ask for help when you need it.”
“The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse”
by Charlie Mackesy
Further virtual resilience support
The experienced team here understand the feelings we are all encountering and are used to offering virtual support. In fact, we have a whole series of lockdown themed webinars in addition to our regular well-being programmes.
So Get in Touch if you are experiencing challenging issues affecting you or your organisation.
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