At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can 
Frida Kahlo

It’s probably hard to think of a time in human history where we have witnessed so much change in such a short amount of time. Many loved ones have been lost, and the corona virus has created a considerable amount of fear for both ourselves, and our friends and families. Then there is the isolation that has resulted, with the severe restrictions on our movements and the way we interact with others. And if that is not bad enough, there’s also the economic impact, that we suspect is only starting to be felt. We are living in very uncertain times.

It’s a hell of a lot to deal with!…and completely unprecedented (in our lifetimes at least). We have never dealt with anything like this before.  Fortunately, there are skills that can be learnt and used when times are so uncertain. At Happy Ground Wellbeing we have been helping people to manage the challenges in their lives for many years. Here are six tips which we hope will help you to get through, or even prosper, in what is a truly difficult time.

1. Manage your emotions as best you can

One of the key things to manage are the negative or challenging emotions that are likely to come up during this time, such as fear, anxiety, anger and sadness. While these emotions (triggered by our thinking), are a natural part of being human, it is important, for all of us, that we do not become overwhelmed by them. Yes, allow yourself to feel them, but many years of living with these darker emotions (and subsequent years of meditation practice), have taught me that you don’t want to sit with them for too long. Depending on your circumstances, your mind may try to take you down this unhelpful path. The antidote to this is to find the peace and joy that lies in your heart. A simple meditation practice to try is to relaxtouch your heart, and smile – for at least ten minutes a day. This has been shown to lift moods and create a lighter, more positive feeling within us. Try the basic heart steps recording at www.happyground.com.au/free-meditations/.

2. Look at what you can control

One of the simplest things that we can do to improve how we feel, is to accept that there is much that we can’t do anything about, and that we need to learn to let go of our desire to control the uncontrollable. Once we have done this, it is important to realise that there are still many areas of our life where we can take positive actions. It’s best to focus on these, and let the rest follow its own course.

3. See the opportunities

While it can be difficult to accept, any new situation always presents opportunities to do something positive, and to grow from the experience. If you are concerned about contracting the illness, there’s an opportunity to change your behaviour in ways that reduce the likelihood you’ll contract it, which will also help others. If you are feeling isolated, look at other ways that you can connect with people, be that over the internet, phone, or an old-fashioned letter. If your work situation has changed, hopefully you are in the position where you can enjoy the space, and use the time to pursue other things that you enjoy, such as gardening, spending time with your family, learning a new skill, starting an Esty account or simply spending time ‘being’. How often are we able to press ‘pause’ on our lives to do this? You’ll never get a better chance to re-evaluate how you were living your life, ponder what is really important to you, and consider if any changes need to be made.

4. Be optimistic

I know from personal experience that it can be difficult at times to be optimistic. However, having an optimistic outlook can lift our mood and assist us in managing our mental and physical health, and it has even been linked to greater longevity.[1] When we feel optimistic it also increases the chances that we will follow through with the actions we need to take. So be optimistic, as with any luck some good will come from the many changes we are faced with at the moment.

5. Consider what you already have

No matter your situation, if you look wide enough there will always be something in your life to be thankful for. Taking time each day to think about this has been shown to make us happier,[2] so try to make this a part of your daily routine, and maybe even keep a journal documenting this.

6. Allow yourself to be happy

My final tip for managing this difficult time is to try and allow yourself to be happy, despite what is going on. Often in difficult times we think because we are suffering or others are suffering, we can’t possibly be happy. We may even think it is simply not right to be happy at this time. While understandable, the reality is that having a positive mood not only feels good and improves our health, but it also allows us to think more clearly. This can enable us to rationalise our situation better, and help us if we need to make important decisions at this time. Furthermore, when we allow ourselves to feel some joy, this can also have a positive impact on those around us. Joy, like stress or sadness, is contagious, so allow yourself to find things to be happy about. You may also find that while our situations may change, true joy comes from within, regardless of external circumstances. If you want to know more about this you may enjoy my book, Finding Happy Ground: A practical guide to hope and happiness.

I hope these simple tips can help you find some peace and happiness at this time.

Hugs, Ivan