Stress is caused by feelings of scarcity. When we perceive that we do not have enough of a resource (e.g. time, money, personal space), we experience stress and anxiety. Stress is always a function of some sort of perceived shortage. But could it be, that the reverse is also true—that if we challenge those perceptions, that we can tap into some of those feelings that come from having enough?
In normal times, stress may be manageable or even be motivational. But we are not living in normal times. Many of the feelings of scarcity are very real and very frightening, and now we need to work at that source of calm.
Use gratitude to build mental toughness
Expressions of gratitude have been proven to help improve outlook and attitude. In fact, science has shown us that the best predictor of a long, productive life is how much gratitude someone feels. To exercise gratitude, daily journaling of five things that you are genuinely grateful for will have a noticeable improvement on attitude and outlook.
While COVID-19 has caused scarcity in so many ways, surely it has also resulted in abundance in just as many unexpected ways. Perhaps we can tap the unexpected wins for just as many things for which to be grateful. For example, could it be that we now have more time at home when previously we had almost none? Could it be that our commute, which was previously across town, has now been reduced to across the hall? Could it be that for the first time we are eating breakfast with other members of our family? As a society, could it be that we are implementing new technologies and making cultural shifts that will pay dividends for years to come?
For the first time in a very long time the streets are filled with a sense of community. People are out for walks, children are riding bicycles and families are banging pots and pans in the evening. Before COVID-19, weekends were the time to vamoose out of the city leaving the streets empty.
If we are home on weekends, or even just home before dark, maybe we are now seeing blossoms on trees that we never knew existed.
A common enemy brings us closer together
Working from home, I am witnessing a flurry of activity, virtually. Although many colleagues are concerned they cannot perform their jobs the way they want to, they are nevertheless motivated to remove the obstacles presented by COVID-19. Yes, there is a modicum of tension, but tension in a way that everyone sees the challenges in a unique way. Despite this, I have never seen things happen faster, more efficiently, or more respectfully. The common COVID enemy is drawing us closer together and never before have I seen such amazing teamwork. Despite the challenges, I am seeing many things for which to be grateful.