Author: Angelina Alexandrova
The world is in constant motion. As individuals, we grow up and at different stages of our lives, we go through new challenges – entering adulthood, moving to a new place, changing jobs or careers, ending significant relationships. In the last two years, on top of our personal lives shifting, social structures are crumbling, affecting everyone, be it in a personal or professional manner. Having a resilient mindset helps us get over any type of change, big or small. What is a resilient mindset though?
The human brain is structured in a way that promotes energy efficiency – it always takes the path of least resistance. This means that we, as humans, rely on instincts, patterns, and habits to get us through the day, week, year. It is the reason we struggle so much with change and unexpected events – the unknown triggers choice fatigue, physical and mental anxiety, depressive moods, and self-pity. But there is a way to make resiliency and flexibility in thought a habit, and that is by embracing and getting intimately familiar with newness. Here are my tested and proven ways to turn chaos into your friend:
1. Take accountability for yourself
In any given situation, you have access to yourself, your focus, thoughts, and actions. Notice what exactly is making you anxious, angry or bitter, and ask yourself Can I do something about this? If you can - act. If it’s something outside of your control, take a step back from the situation (it is always possible!), process your emotions and take away their power to unnerve you by switching your focus onto something more enjoyable. You can do this through deep breaths, listening to music or creatively expressing your bottled-up feelings. Some ideas for that are doodling, singing, writing, dancing, hitting the gym, etc.
Remember, you have the power over what you think about, what you focus on, and how you act – use it.
2. Be mindful
When too many things shift at the same time, it’s easy to feel like we’re floating around in space with no idea where to go. Poise yourself by choosing one thing to observe – it could be your breath, a tree nearby, a friend or a song. This way you can calm your mind and slowly widen your perspective to include all on-going changes. I like to stare at trees, while focusing on my breath.
3. Look back at similar experiences
Everything passes – it’s easier to endure the dificulties if we know we’ve been through a similar situation before and are certain that it will end sooner or later. Not everyone has gone through global pandemics before but most of us have gone through being restricted in our decisions. Examples could be restrictions from our parents or when our bosses made an unexpected change in workflow. At some point, we either get used to the new situation and make the best of it or we change it altogether. How is the current situation similar to your previous experiences?
It’s safe to take it one minute at a time – you don’t even have to take it one day at a time if it’s too overwhelming.
4. Reach out to your support network
You’re not alone. Often, your friends and family have gone or are going through chaotic experiences like the one/s you’re having. Call someone, share what’s on your mind, ask for help, and you’ll see how loved and cherished you are. Remind yourself of these feelings every time you feel lost or incapable of getting through the Now.
5. Intentionally seek out the new
By putting yourself in unfamiliar situations regularly, you get used to the associated rush of adrenaline and cortisol, which makes your tolerance higher. Distractions might help but they will only make you more anxious after you’re done with them. Some ideas: try out new hobbies, explore unfamiliar places in Plovdiv, another city or abroad, go to a nudist beach, try new forms of physical activity, network in a new space or industry, join Toastmasters, start a new language course.
6. Practice self-care
Self-care, together with mindfulness, helps you to ground yourself in the present moment and to strengthen the connection with your body. Having a set time for pampering every day will give you something to look forward to, especially when it’s a stressful period. Treat yourself to a nice shower to wash off the day-to-day anxiety, meditate, have a nice ice cream or something tasty, dance, hug yourself.
7. Find the humor
Everything is funny when you look at it from the right perspective. What’s funny now? How can you look at this from the viewpoint of a comedian? Or from a dark humor angle? Make yourself laugh by opening your eyes wide and seeing the ridiculousness of the situation – enjoy and laugh it off!