April 6, 2020

I’m not particularly well-versed in Latin, but the quote “Dum spiro spero” (“While I breathe, I hope”) has always stood out to me. For a long time, it served as a personal reminder that as long as we are alive, we should strive for a better future. Even when times are difficult, there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

This motto is more crucial than ever today since the world has been thrown into a cataclysmic upheaval. With the coronavirus death toll rising daily, compounded by the number of new infected cases, it’s hard not to have anxiety when reading the news. Even if you want to turn a blind eye, social media is awash with Covid-19 content, which can have an unpropitious effect on our mental state. Experts estimate that the human mind produces between 60,000–80,000 thoughts a day and most of them are, in fact, counterproductive to our well-being. When we get wrapped up in our recalcitrant thoughts, our ability to focus diminishes and our mind gets trapped in a cycle of obsessive negativity—sending us in a downward spiral.

Thankfully, we can choose how to respond to each situation. In order to overcome adversity, reframe them as an opportunity to develop greater resistance. Whether you are facing unemployment, financial pressure or a loss of personal freedom, being mentally resilient will enable us to focus better, to see possibilities, and to problem-solve effectively. Here’s how to stay sane and thrive in this climate.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Practising mindfulness can bolster your mental health. Once you make a conscious effort to calm your mind, you will develop a greater awareness of your emotions, which improves your decision-making skills. It’s as simple as adopting a simple 10-minute meditation routine every morning before work. Omvana, rated one of the best meditation apps in 2019 by Healthline, offers specific mindfulness exercises that help to alleviate dysphoria and allows you to customise your own meditation blends. Another technique to use is to silently repeat a positive word, or mantra that has an uplifting effect on your spirit. This slows your thoughts down and shuts out the white noise from your surroundings. Regular aerobic exercise is also known to dissipate stress and treat anxiety disorders, so try skipping for 20 minutes to get your heart racing. There’s nothing like a release of endorphins to liven your mood.

Take a Break

Although everyone is practically WFH, that doesn’t mean deadlines or critical work issues are at a standstill. Stress levels can escalate and become toxic, especially if your business has been impacted by the virus. Feelings of helplessness can engender an impulse to act capriciously, leading to more frustration if the desired results are not achieved. Surpass mental blocks by taking a short walk around your neighbourhood and looking at greenery. Exposure to nature reduces blood pressure, anxiety, as well as the production of stress hormones. In the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

Stay Connected With People

While we are all in self-quarantine mode, it is essential to maintain a tight community of support to keep us stable and healthy. Staying in touch with family and friends can ease the sense of isolation and loneliness. Schedule regular Zoom sessions or call your mentor if you’re feeling stuck. Sometimes sending a simple text message like “How is your day?” or “Just checking in to see how you’re doing” can go a long way in times like these. Having people whom you can relate to or are in similar circumstances can boost your mental wellness.

Always Have Gratitude

Start a gratitude journal where you spend 21 days consecutively writing down (at least) three things that you are grateful for each day. It could be small things like being thankful for fast WiFi or whipping up your own dalgona coffee, just the way you like it. Research has shown that the practice of gratitude allows us to experience greater life satisfaction by magnifying positive emotions, resulting in a more buoyant outlook on life.

Remember Your Purpose

To stay focused, it is crucial to remember what motivates you. If you don’t have a compelling reason, it will be easy to throw in the towel when facing obstacles. Once you find your raison d’etre, work won’t feel like work anymore. Not only will you dream bigger, but you’ll also be inspired to put your best foot forward in every aspect of your life.