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Finding Wellness and Resiliency During the Coronavirus by Dr. Lynn Panattoni

Do you feel like it is Groundhog Day? You wake up every morning and it is the same thing. Coffee, home office, worrying about helping your child with 5th-grade math, walk around the block, dinner, and bed. Endless news about this invisible invader who has taken over your world.

 

Something has happened to you and you didn’t see it coming. One day you were planning your family vacation and the next day everything in your life has been canceled, you’re wearing a mask and staring at a computer or television screen waiting for your next directive. 

 

This type of sudden change can make you feel overwhelmed and out of control. All domains of your life have been hijacked. Each morning you wake up and run through the litany of problems that have been created by this invader. I lost my job. I can’t pay my bills. Am I going to lose my house? My family is depending on me.  You have the same thoughts every day, which leads to the same feelings and then the same behaviors driving you down an emotional rabbit hole that you can’t get out of. As the weeks go by and these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are repeated, they become an automatic response to the world, changing who you are.   

 

Don’t let this experience become traumatic and define you. But how do you do that? You start by focusing on the things you can control. Building your resiliency will be your roadmap to dealing with this adversity. Becoming more resilient not only helps you deal with stress but opens doors to your personal growth. 

 

 Even during this difficult time, you can find opportunities to be the architect of your life. The stronger the emotion you feel about your circumstances, the more altered you feel inside your body. This means you can create new feelings about your future that will wake your body up and change your brain. Those old thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will no longer be defined by this invisible invader, but by you.

 

What does it mean to be resilient? Resilience involves thoughts, feelings, and actions that focus on shifting your lens, managing personal energy, connections, well-being, and finding your purpose. This takes time and intention but it can lead to improving your life.

 

Shifting Your Lens: 

When you reaffirm the negative thoughts and feelings brought on by this invisible invader you will never be free. Shifting your lens requires you to ask the question

 “Why ?”. In order to change your thoughts and feelings, you need to explore your reactions. As you explore your reactions, you begin to recognize the people and things that are truly valuable to you which helps you focus on a greater understanding of your values. Self-reflection is the key to changing your thinking.

 

Managing Personal Energy:

Avoid negative messages. Don’t watch TV if the message takes you back to the negative thinking you are trying to change. Stay away from people that reinforce the fears and anxieties you are feeling. Set healthy boundaries in your life by limiting exposure to TV and Facebook. Try not to worry about things in your life you cannot control.

 

 When you are stressed your mind is racing, leaving little room for possibility. Quiet your mind through meditation. Sit for 5 minutes in the morning and evening and think about a place you have visited or a relationship that makes you feel free. Disconnect from your body and environment. Focus on an image or feeling. When thoughts of what you have to do during the day or opinions about others come into your mind, push them away for these few minutes. This exercise will help you stay present and reduce stress.

 

Connections:

Stay connected to your community. When you walk outside your house, wave to your neighbor even if you don’t know them. Go to the grocery store and think of it as a new experience. Connect with friends on FaceTime, Zoom, phone, text, or email. If you have a family member who is elderly and unable to leave their home, drive by and wave to them.  Take your life back.

 

Fun is a state-of-mind. Be present in your day looking through the lens of gratitude.  When we are intentional about identifying what is going “right” in our lives, that leads to a shift in mindset. Now you are on the path to enjoying your day. 

 

Well-being:

Well-being is more than just getting through each day during these uncertain times. It is a state of being influenced by your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Taking each day to explore and identify your strengths will help you adapt and cope with changes in your life. Identify your support system. People that feel connected do better.  You will find a sense of balance and well-being when you approach life in a positive way. If you find that you are feeling depressed and anxious and are unable to function you should contact your doctor.

Find Your Sense Of Purpose:

In life, we all have a purpose to fulfill. In this challenging time full of change and uncertainty, we can feel lost and unsure of our purpose. Don’t let this temporary change derail you from your goals. Spend time with things that drive and inspire you. Create positive goals for yourself each day. Not big goals but goals that you can build on. Intentionally do a kind act for someone. Giving back and seeing a warm response from someone changes your energy and makes you feel better. Keep your focus on your vision of the future, it will lead you to identify new opportunities. 

These micro-practices are intended to help you develop your resilience. Intentionally making small changes in your life will help you control the things you can control, bringing your life back to balance and a state of well-being. 

 

Lynn M. Panattoni, Ph.D

Turnpaugh Health and Wellness Center