COVID-19 India Diaries
Crafting your Unique Roadmap to Self-Resilience
Conceived in Lockdown, Endured At All Times
Out of the 200 respondents we surveyed in India during the lockdown, 40% chose mindfulness to manage stress while the rest chose actions that suppressed their emotions, which steered them to different form of addictions.
Stress is inevitable and impartial. It hits each one of us with the same torque, and doesn’t spare anyone. We can potentially make a difference through the way we respond to this stress. There are largely two ways– managing it or suppressing it.
However, suppressing emotions can silently attack your mental well-being. This fact has been scientifically upheld, and hence, reinstates that suppression cannot be choice when it comes to stress.
However, one way to manage stress head on is through practicing mental resilience. We can prevent disorders by managing the stress. The practice of mental resilience can play a pivotal role here.
To elicit this interplay of stress and its management through mental resilience, as well as understanding the HOWs of it in the current situation, we surveyed about 200 working professionals aged between 30 and 45 in India over the three months of COVID lockdown.
This sample, showing a mix of men and women, shared vivid stories around managing stress and responding to conflicts during this period ranging from April to June, this year. Here’s how some of the responses looked like:
Key Question: What is your strategy when it comes to handling stress?
“Not that I am unusually stressed during WFH, but I remind myself that it’s a new way of working and it will be difficult at times. So, patience and empathy help a lot.”
“I have realized that most stress is caused – not by external factors but internal ones where I know I am not true to myself. I remain true and keep integrity high – leading to low or no stress because even if there are no results – I know I put my true actions and for future also I focus on what additional actions I can take without fretting too much on results.”
“Yoga and meditation really help to keep my mind clear.”
“Self-realization, Meditation, and some basic exercise helps me mentally and emotionally.”
“Smoking. It does help to calm my nerves.”
“To handle the stress I try to keep myself busy binge-watching.”
About 40% of them said practicing relaxation exercises that could trigger internal reflection such as mediation, practicing silence was their go-to strategy all this while.
Nearly 30% said they watched Netflix, read a book, or a make a phone call to a friend or relative to switch their attention.
About 20% chose to smoke or drink stating that it eased the strain in their nerves, while 10% were those who said – it depends on the situation. There was no strategy specified for them.
What Does the Data Indicate?
Consciously or sub-consciously, those 40% people who chose meditation, yoga were involved in the practice of self-awareness. They might still have been struggling with effective handling of their conflicts, but they were atleast aware of their impulse or reactions when stress triggered around or within them.
The remaining 60% respondents were, unknowingly suppressing the stress in their various different ways. Take a moment to see which of the two shows your reflection.
Let us not fall in the trap of deciding between the right or wrong. This matter is highly subjective and would always be different for every individual. The goal here is not to make a judgement about yourself or others. It is, to rather, measure that — whichever path or approach you opt for, is it really taking you close to the desired outcomes? Think.
How Self-Awareness and Mental Resilience Enable you to Manage Stress
It is important to know yourself a bit better and trust me you deserve that. That is your first step towards rising above the problems, the stress they bring, and getting closer to the solutions that really work for you. As you make it a practice to seek solution and take action, you board the journey of practicing self-resilience.
Self-awareness is the foundation stone for practicing resilience. Unless you would know what is your weak-link, you would not be able catch the vein that brings you resilience.
A study titled “The positive effect of resilience on stress and business outcomes in difficult work environments” published in the Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, found that
Individuals with lower resilience presented poor psychological and work outcomes, across both high-strain and low-strain work environments. The most notable effects of resilience were the 10% to 20% lower rates in likely depression, absence, and productivity loss when resilience is high
This study also found that “Higher levels of resilience were had beneficial effects on worker’s perceptions of stress, psychological responses to stress, and job-related behaviors related to stress regardless of difficult environments.”
Identify the Most Common Response to Stress: Which Role Do you Usually Play?
1. Victim Mode – Complaining. You avoid being accountable. You refuse to accept your fault and your responsibility.
2. Anger Mode – Blaming the environment for all your problems. You feel insecure and become hostile with the other person.
3. “It’s Okay” Mode – The tendency to avoid the situation in order to make a temporary settlement.
4. Collaboration Mode – Looking for a win-win- outcome, even if you have to do it alone. Your focus is more on the solution rather than the problem.
5. Fearless Mode – You feel fearless irrespective of the outcome, you learnt something unique about yourself and this gives you a freedom, freedom of choice.
Once you identify your common reaction, you need to clearly know what strategy will work for you. It cannot be the same for everyone, and nobody can craft it better than you. Learn how to enable yourself in that direction.
Follow the 5 Simple Steps to Manage your Stress in Any Situation
Not having a go-to strategy during the lockdown or any adversity is not averse. However, not knowing your natural responses in times of stress may land you in larger trials.
Leverage the lockdown to assess how you are responding during a crisis, and then walk the journey of the 5As for Practicing Resilience effectively
Awareness of your self, your current reality vs perceived reality, your self-limiting beliefs, and how it might hinder your growth, your emotional responses to the current status quo are extremely important. You must be aware of the current environment and what is needed to make the shift towards success.
Accepting reality and moving forward without making any false assumptions. Complete acceptance allows you to engage all of your energy into your current task so that you can maximize your chances of performing and leading well. Acceptance is not about accepting the situation, it’s about moving ahead with new knowledge about yourself.
Drop the façade! When you don’t operate with authenticity, you come from a place of force and internal conflict even if no one else is aware of it. This can be very draining. Understand the fact that we are all perfectly imperfect and that we all have blind areas. Master and leverage your existing strength, figure out ways that will help you pump up your strength.
4. Adaptably and Agility:
Be flexible and adaptable, learn new skills, and cultivate a growth mindset. New skills will help you stay relevant, continuously learn and grow.
This is the most important step. This is the stage which takes your closer to your end goal. If you do not complement all the awareness you gather about yourself, the opportunities around you, etc, you may still end up with the same set of problems
This step demands courage to take those tiny yet worthwhile steps towards bring the necessary change in your situation.
Let us not wait for an adversity to hit us and cause unprecedented or permanent damage to our mental well-being. Instead, let us learn from the insights above, and those that each of you must have gathered during the lockdown and start practicing resilience.
Let us become more self-aware, think out of box, and resist the urge to give averse instant reactions. The key is to adapt yourself to think differently.
Lastly, what matters the most is, you identify what exactly has your response been, and then measure – how effectively does it take you to the outcomes that you seek.
Look back at the insights and find your way. For more help, you can connect with me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shatté, A., Perlman, A., Smith, B., & Lynch, W. D. (2017). The positive effect of resilience on stress and business outcomes in difficult work environments. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 59(2), 135.