It is sad to see a powerful country being torn apart bit by bit from within. It is even more heart-wrenching to see the confidence and faith of its people, as well as those from Europe and many affected countries, being shredded into pieces helplessly.
If you are one of them, or going through equally tough times, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:
You can either choose to let panic feed on your mind and body, and let it grow stronger at the expense of your life.
Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and end the panic then and there.
But how do you withstand the huge waves of a crisis, let alone being positive about it, while they are coming at you in breakneck speed? Here are a few ways to consider:
Quit being a victim. It is easier to assume the role of a victim during tough times than taking responsibilities for yourself. But doing so will only prolong your suffering and put off people who may be able to help you out. Letting go of the victim label also frees you from resentment and bitterness which will only jam up the creative energies you need to get out of the mess.
Take stock with meditation. Meditate on what really happened and your response to the crisis. Learn to see the crisis for what it really is. Begin by practicing breathing meditation, and then ask yourself: “What has really happened in spite of what have been reported? Are my fears and worries real or imaginary? If they are real, what can I do about them?” Contemplate also on the nature of the crises you have experienced in the past. Understand that each one has a distinct start and end, and may even exhibit a cyclical trend.
Focus on the positives. No matter how dire a situation may be, there are always some positives you can find in it. It is our unwillingness to look at them that blind us to the brighter sides. In the book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, the author Alex Pattakos recounted how he managed to pull a female driver to safety when he saw her school van crashed into a parked car. Then in an attempt to calm down the distraught woman, he asked her to list ten positive things about this accident. You probably thought he was insane, but they managed to list the positives which included the fact that the van and the car which she crashed into were both empty at the point of the accident. The attempt may seem absurd but it worked. The driver was calm enough to break into a smile and had probably saved herself from going into a shock. Now it is your turn, think of ten positive things that would happen from this crisis.
Give thanks. Having listed the positives you can think of, give thanks for the current situation as well as the things that you already have. For one, things could be a lot more worse! It won’t be easy to be thankful in the face of harsh challenges, but focusing on what you do have, instead of what you have lost, will put you in a better position to solve problems on hands than being in a self-pity and sorrowful state.
Reach out to others. Do you know of people who might be badly affected by the crisis? Some may have lost their jobs because their companies were put out of business, while others have suffered huge losses due to stock market crash. Talk to them, listen, and if it is within your means, offer your help, however small it may be. Helping others who are less fortunate than you also helps you to put things in perspective. And who knows, they may be the ones who lend you a helping hand when the table is turned the next time.
Get enough sleep. During stressful time, we’re likely to skip on sleep, either voluntarily or not. But in reality, you will need more quality sleep during stressful times than ever so that you can remain energetic, clear-headed and focused to figure out your next steps.
Limit bad news intake. Being constantly fed with gloomy news is enough to make even a dog panic for no reason. Hearing bad news once is enough, not ten times of the same news in different versions from every gadget that you own.
Join forces with others. When bad things happen, it is easy to become close-minded. But chances are, you are not alone during difficult times. There are likely to be many people who feel the same way as you do even though they may not voice out loud. For instance, if you are worried about job security, recruit the help of your boss by discussing the implications of the crisis on your job and what you can best do to keep it. Your boss will appreciate your proactive approach and may even be glad that there is someone who shares the same sentiment. If you are unemployed, besides making trips to recruitment and government agencies to cast your employment net, connect with others who are in the same boat as you. Take this lull period to expand your network. The many talented friends that you will make during hard times could become lifetime friendships, and even turn into unexpected help in the future. And if you are an employer, this is a great time to boost your business with skillful and experienced people to help you ride out the crisis.
Get close to nature. Finnish researchers found that spending time in your favorite outdoor area and woodlands are more relaxing and restorative than time spent in your favorite urban settings or city parks (Korpela KM et al. 2010). Taking a mindful walk through the woods is also a great way to clear the mind and regain mental balance.
Re-evaluate the meaning of your life. Tough times present hard but valuable lessons that force us to re-evaluate the meanings we have been attaching to our lives. Ask yourself: “Do the meanings and goals I’ve been living by before the crisis really worthwhile? Through this crisis, what are the things that I’ve found to be really important? And what are those that are not as precious as what I once thought to be?”
Lastly, I leave you with these words from Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning:
“Man is not free from conditions. But he is free to take a stand in regard to them. The conditions do not completely condition him. Within limits it is up to him whether or not he succumbs and surrenders to the conditions. He may as well rise above them and by so doing open up and enter the human dimension…Ultimately, man is not subject to the conditions that confront him; rather, these conditions are subject to his decision. Wittingly or unwittingly, he decides whether he will face up or give in, whether or not he will let himself be determined by the conditions.” — An excerpt from Psychotherapy and Existentialism