The recent announcement of restrictions increasing rather than continuing to decrease has caused mixed responses – and a lot of anxiety.
Once again we are feeling afraid of COVID19, and wondering how we will cope with a return to the lifestyle we once had when working and learning from home.
As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of the VIA Character Strengths – as a language that assists us with our emotional literacy. Drawing consciously on these strengths – and talking about doing so with the younger people we work with – is a way for us to reinforce that we all have the tools to deal with difficult times. This is a wonderful process to model – as well as to feel better equipped to handle any challenges ahead.
Let’s start with one of my signature strengths – and one that I am drawing upon heavily at this moment in time – Perspective. Perspective helps me to see the big picture and to see it with open-mindedness. Our strength of Perspective reminds us that a spike in cases is not the end of the world, and may not mean a complete return to lockdown. It may just mean some smaller changes or a need to scale back some of the sense of a “return to normal” we may have embraced (and perhaps embraced too early).
And instead of fearing a return to more restricted movements, let us also draw upon our character strengths of Hope and Bravery. Yes there were struggles – we felt limited and hemmed in at home. We felt unable to move freely and associate with our friends. We couldn’t go to places we wanted to go… our lives were definitely smaller.
But we managed. If we managed once, we will manage again should circumstances require it.
And not only did we manage, but in some ways, we found pathways to thrive. Just like seedlings we are destined to grow, and we lean towards things that help us thrive. Many of us got out into the sunshine more often, and consciously spent more time with family. We embraced new habits and hobbies. We baked. We exercised. We gardened. We did puzzles and played board games with family for the first time in years. We became more creative about our lives lived at home. We learned to appreciate small things – and to appreciate each other. And we will do so again. Our character strength of Optimism will help us here.
Another useful strength right now is Gratitude. If you have read any of the stories of the small number of Australians who have contracted this virus – it really is quite debilitating and the effects are long-term. Many struggle to return to normal lifestyles weeks after recovering. Our strength of gratitude helps us to focus on how lucky we are to still be fit and healthy. And to still have so many joys in our lives – those things that helped us manage last time.
And finally, we draw upon our strength of Kindness. We don’t just stay at home, wash our hands, socially distance and so on for ourselves, we do so for others. We do so to stop the spread of this terrible virus, especially to the elderly and the immune-compromised. Our sacrifices here – and yes there will be sacrifices – are the greatest acts of kindness we can show right now. And this is a beautiful message to share with young children who ask questions about restrictions. We do it to help others.
So if times get harder, remember that we all have so much to draw upon to help us through. And that these character strengths provide us with the tools to assist young people to do the same. You might also benefit from watching this video from the Guardian Newspaper on dealing with Cabin Fever – should you need it.
Photo by ready made