By Kamna Chhibber
Supriya is someone I have been working with for over a year now. She is in her final year of college and my interactions with her over the last few weeks have revealed the deep-seated anxiety and worry she has been experiencing during this pandemic. Often she shares with me, “I do not know how to plan. I have been anxious all along and now it’s just so much worse. I’m stuck and any problem-solving approach I attempt to implement fails miserably short of helping me feel better”.
Supriya isn’t the only one who has been sharing such concerns. Another student I work with has been distraught over the uncertainty of the future. He had recently secured a job through his campus placement cell and now that very opportunity is hanging by a thin strand of hope. There is no certainty whether the organisation will be able to take him on once things settle. And to compound that, there is no response from anywhere else either about the possibility of future opportunities.
Be it a student in school or college or a young person who has or is just about to enter the workforce, the apprehension and worry about the future is immense. And for many this becomes more than just overwhelming because not just they but the adults around them too fail to produce any answers. No words can seem to pacify the anxiousness that builds up and yet there is a need to keep maintaining one’s calm. While initially there was a feeling of excitement and exuberance, a sense of invulnerability that many felt given that the young were not going to be as impacted as per global reports initially, lately that enthusiasm has been replaced by a great sense of trepidation and for many also with a feeling of gloom and doom.
Maintaining hope, optimism and positivity in such a scenario is most certainly different but this is when we need to direct all our efforts to maintain our resilience.
Here are some things for you to keep in mind as we continue collectively to move through these difficult times.
- Concentrate your efforts on being in the present: There are no answers and you are right in feeling and believing that. The uncertainty is a reality and it has changed the way we all exist. From finding solutions we need to shift gears towards making each day better, finding activities and support mechanisms to help you feel more in control. Bringing yourself forcibly back from thoughts about what could have been or what can be is the need of the hour. So keep moving towards grounding yourself in where you are now and what you are doing now.
- Consider the possibility of plan A, B, C, D and E: Something which I had heard growing up, this strategy has been a big support in difficult times. Instead of getting fixated on that one thing that you ideally would have liked to do, try to expand upon the scope of where all you can possibly engage. Come up with as many plans as you possibly can so that you don’t have to spend additional time in the future when things do start falling into place to come up with alternatives and options last minute.
- Work towards become emotionally attuned to yourself: Often young people struggle to be attuned to what is happening within and instead remain focused on the situations alone. To be able to take control of what and how you are feeling an important element involves becoming attuned to what you are feeling. This necessitates that you expand your emotional vocabulary and make a concerted effort to understand and then also embrace what you are going through. Acceptance towards these emotions is important as is remembering that what you are feeling is going to be a natural by-product of the situation you are in.
- Get innovative: If you are being able to define the problem then you need to take step towards coming up with creative solutions. An unprecedented situation like the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown call for unique ways of solving for the uncertainties you anticipate are likely to come your way. For those aspects where you can’t come up with solutions it is important to accept this and keep moving in the direction of maintaining your daily routines and working on those elements that can be altered.
- Use exercise and mindfulness to generate calmness: This is a time when it may be helpful to start a healthy exercise routine or practice yoga, meditation, pranayama or mindfulness. All of these contribute towards helping you feel relaxed and bring down your stress levels. It is important to use these mechanisms to enhance your coping during this time.
- Talk to those around you: Conversations don’t have to be all about fun and frolic. Instead reach out to people and share what you may be struggling with. By speaking to others you may gain another perspective or a new way to resolve the problem you are perceiving. Sharing is important as is reaching out to seek help.
- This too shall pass: Change is the only constant and at the end this too will be a situation that will change. Don’t become hinged to this current situation we are all going through. Remind yourself that this too shall pass. There will be a different situation us all soon and at the end of the together we can determine solutions and move forward.
To maintain your hope and optimism you don’t need to deny the reality of the challenging circumstances we are currently facing. This is the current situation and it is an evolving one. Give yourself a sense of meaning and purpose and look towards what you can do today that is not just helpful to you but also to those around you. Find that silver lining in the situation we are in and you will find your resilience-building.
Editor’s Note: If you have specific questions you want to ask the experts, even anonmyously, do drop us a note or email (team@healthcollective[dot]in)