Mindset & Dealing with Crisis

Maintaining a Positive Mindset During Covid-19

Most of us now have become familiar with the feelings and sometimes anxiety of navigating a COVID-19 world.  Whether at home or in the workplace we have all been challenged on some level as we adapt to what is currently being described as the ‘next normal’.  Last week we collectively entered a second lockdown which has thrust our personal and work lives into varying levels of chaos once again.  The uncertainty of the timeframe of this current lockdown combined with concerns for our family, community, and the ability to survive makes it difficult to hang on to positivity and optimism.  I thought I’d write this blog to share my thoughts and some practical tips that might be helpful to anyone who is struggling right now.  As a small business owner, there are constant day to day concerns about the long term impact of the lockdown on our business. There were days when I let these concerns consume my day-to-day activities and there were more than a few days where I felt despondent and overwhelmed.  Then one day the lightbulb went on and I asked myself the question – am I going to let COVID-19 define me and/or my business?  The answer was a resounding ‘NO’ and with that, I refocused my thinking and things began to take on a different and new perspective.  The big change was mindset – I began to focus more on following the teachings that I have studied for years and years.  I began to incorporate the wisdom of my ‘superheroes’ in my day to day thoughts and actions – I became more deliberate in how I approached each task at work, I re-arranged my home schedule to include some enjoyable and purposeful routines, I cut out the white noise and the negativity of social media and ‘fake news’ and finally, I mindfully practiced gratitude daily. There was no major shift, no major changes but focusing on mindset and ‘adjusting’ my world view has dramatically improved my ability to run the business and to develop innovations that will help the business to sustain itself during the critical period.

Here’s what I have tapped in to over the past 6 months:

Optimism: I think this is number one – a willingness to believe that if I make an effort or take a chance I will achieve some payoff.  This might not be a textbook outcome however ‘small wins’ are important as they act as a reward which in turn encourages further and continued effort.

“What is hope but a feeling of optimism, a thought that says things will improve, it won’t always be bleak, there’s a way to rise above the present circumstances. Hope is an internal awareness that you do not have to suffer forever, and that somehow, somewhere there is a remedy for despair that you will come upon if you can only maintain this expectancy in your heart.”

Wayne W. Dyer

Acceptance: This is a crucial trait of the positive mindset; at the crossroads we have choices….We can give in and accept failure and the status quo or we can accept that things don’t always work out according to the original plan.  The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes and grow from our experiences. Steven Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ talks about our ‘circle of concern’ and our ‘circle of influence’.  Our circle of concern contains many things that are of our control e.g. the pandemic.  Covey tells us that we should focus on our circle of influence and in doing so the circle of concern will reduce and our circle of influence will increase (see diagram below).  Accepting that things don’t always go according to plan is a step in the right direction.

Source: Steven R. Covey

Resilience: In my classes, I call this ‘bounce back ability’ that characteristic of being able to get back up, dust yourself off, and begin afresh.  This is not easy but if you are someone with this trait you are a winner.  I read a quote once that went something like ‘tough times don’t last but tough people do’ this is at the core of resilience.

Gratitude: I have developed an interest in neuroscience over the past few years and I truly believe what experts are telling us about the infinite power of the brain.  Gratitude triggers the part of our brain that controls our emotions.  By deliberately and regularly practicing gratitude we automatically trigger feel-good hormones that make us feel positive and optimistic.  This can be something as simple as acknowledging a blue sky in an otherwise chilly autumn morning – nothing fancy, connecting with the simple things that matter.

Mindfulness: For me, this means switching out of my otherwise automatic thinking mode to purposefully focus on conscious awareness of tasks, thoughts, and relaxation – I purchased a weighted blanket and I have found it to be the most amazing relaxation tool and it has enhanced one aspect my mindful practice.

Overall tuning into my mindset daily has enhanced my ability to manage uncertainty and to ‘be present’ for my clients.  

I hope that this article will be of interest to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed at the moment – it’s understandable given the circumstances.  

Some suggestions to try:

  • Practice a little mindfulness
  • Make a list of things you are grateful for – start a gratitude journal
  • Take a walk in the woods or outdoors in general
  • Weighted blankets are magic!
  • Think of all the times you ‘bounced back’ connect with your resilient self
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Believe that brighter days are just around the corner

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin

Janet Tumulty