Just over two months ago our lives were changed – possibly forever. We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of seeing friends, spending time with family, going to school, educating students, doing business or any other face-to-face communication we used to take for granted.

With the new age of physical distancing including stay-at-home orders, mask-wearing and video conferencing we are all being challenged to enter into uncomfortable territory. We miss the handshakes, hugs, dining out, concerts, working aside colleagues and much more. It doesn’t seem fair, but it is a reality we must find a way to embrace – at least for the short-term.

We find ourselves at a juncture. While looking ahead I am reminded of the well-known serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr

Regardless of our religious beliefs, this moment, one with an uncertain future, calls for us to embrace this mantra and address our new reality. The basis sounds simple: there are times in life we must adapt to the larger world. However, that may be harder for some.

Few of us are welcoming these changes, but for our own mental well-being and those around us, we must start to turn the page and find ways to make the best of our new surroundings. 

According to Kathleen Smith, PhD, there are five steps we can follow to take control of our lives and accept change through resiliency.

  1. Evaluate Your Level of Control
    Find the small moments in your life that you can use to empower yourself. We may be in new territory, but you can manage your life.The goal is for you to focus on what makes you feel empowered. Set daily goals every morning of what you want to accomplish and celebrate yourself when you achieve them.
  2. Practice Self-Care after a Loss
    While we may not be dealing with a traditional “loss” – having our lives thrown into such uncertainty feels like we are grieving. That doesn’t mean we don’t take care of ourselves. Try setting up regular video calls with friends and family, start a gratitude journal, or Take the Positivity Pledge to take steps towards positive mental health.
  3. Check Your Thought Patterns
    It is easy for us to lose ourselves in the daily news cycle, Facebook feeds, or Twitter. Those sources may not be the best for our mental health. We should step back and think about our feelings and attitudes. Remove ourselves from the current situation and find ways for us to be positive. You may not get to see your loved ones right now, but you can talk with them and know they are safe – and so are you! Re-frame your thinking and be more positive.
  4. Be in the Present
    To accomplish this we all need to tap into our self-care tools such as mindfulness, meditation, and breathing. It is important we don’t get ahead of ourselves or let stress take over. Managing our emotions and reminding ourselves about our still bright futures can get us through.
  5. Find Your Priorities
    This will be the trick of all of us as we move forward. Reminding ourselves what is important, what do we want to accomplish, and how will we manage it in this new world. Finding our priorities is about looking beyond today’s frustrations and challenges and finding opportunity. Consider creating a vision board to keep yourself motivated and working towards your goals despite setbacks.

This journey we are all taking together won’t be over tomorrow or next week, but We’re In This Together and can reach our destinations. As much as the world seems overwhelming, we need to be there for ourselves and each other, supporting those around us that are struggling.

And, if you are someone that is struggling, seek help. Family, friends, educators, mental health professionals and so many others are available to support you and help you blaze your new path forward.

The world we are in may seem dim – but the future is bright. Hang in there, start taking steps to accept our future even if they are little ones…

From the desk of Executive Director, Brandon Combs