How can I be more resilient in the age of COVID-19?

Marianne Lalande

2020 has been all kinds of strange for many of us. On a global scale, we are experiencing anxiety, uncertainty and challenge. COVID-19 has thrown a massive wrench into businesses, communities, and let's be honest, our mental health, too.

This post isn't a guide on how to deal with coronavirus-induced stress. You've already heard it all: from "top self-care tips during coronavirus" to "lockdown routines" and "how to be productive from home". At times, even well-meaning advice just adds to the noise.

So instead, this article is about your ability to build resilience, no matter what the world throws at you. 

No catch. No credit card required.

How can I have more resilience?

What is resilience?

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. 

Emphasis on recover. This definition doesn't claim that resilient people don't feel stress, don't go through hard times, or don't need to ask for support.

Note that resilience is not:

❌ stoicism

❌ productivity

❌ constant psychological wellbeing

❌ baking your own bread at home (though if you do, mail me some)

When hard times come, we (well, I) have my go-to reactions: distraction (hello, Netflix and Animal Crossing) and information (raise your hand if you’ve refreshed your news feed several times today).

You’ll notice that these ‘methods’ of denial and control work from the outside in; but when that fails—and it eventually does—I feel the need for something that really works. Something that works from the inside out. 

I feel the need for an inner resource that allows me to move forward, even when hard times hit. Resilience.

How can I be more resilient?

At this moment in time, we’re all painfully aware of how little control we have over the outside world. But saying that kind of implies that we have control over our inner world. As if our mental state weren’t directly correlated with the goings-on of the world; the news cycles; the lockdown rules; the corona news; and so on.

The truth is, we do have some control over what our thoughts do to us. If this sounds like a strange turn of phrase to you, let me illustrate with an example.

I work as a freelance writer. Last week, one of my clients cancelled a big project I was about to take on. The company had to cut their marketing budget and my assignment disappeared. Here is an excerpt of my inner monologue when I heard the news:

They completely let me down; I shouldn’t have spent so much time on this; how will I pay for __; they probably didn’t like my work anyway; I’m so stupid for not seeing this coming; how dare I indulge in __

And so on, plus a stomachache.

Well, what a show! 🙃

Do you see what I did here? I took one objective fact: my client cancelled a project.

And turned it into: anger, guilt, stress, insecure thinking and self-flagellation.

This is the creative power of the human mind: we are given incomplete information and our thoughts fill in the blanks. And once they start, they snowball out of control. A classic recipe for homemade emotional turmoil. Suddenly, my one challenge of losing a project turned into this distorted vision of my reality, ft. 99 problems.

And I felt emotionally drained.

But this was a distortion of reality. Had I been able to recognise that my mind was just doing what it does, and that it wasn’t feeding me true information, I would have been able to take the steps I needed to take with a clearer mindset. 

Resilience is knowing that no matter what your external circumstances throw at you, you can adapt.

Okay, but COVID-19 really has messed up my business/income/life. 

Resilience can’t fix everything. But with it, you can find more mental space to tackle your problems one by one. Feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and depression are hard to reason with, because the mind can find all sorts of ways to persuade you of the worst-case scenario being true.

Once you understand that your thoughts are creating the majority of your experience, you are able to distance yourself from them. 

What a relief.

And if you're reading this and thinking "I don't even know how to begin doing that", then you're in the right place. We’ve built More Resilience to give people like you the support they need to create more mental space. We've experienced first-hand how transformative this stuff can be, and we want to pass it on.

Apply now for a grant to access the One Thought course for free. We’d love to help out.

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This story was written by

Marianne Lalande
Marianne Lalande

Marianne is in charge of all things content at More Resilience. As a digital native, she loves bringing online culture into her work to show that technology and wellness really do go well together.

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