What to do when the pandemic has you at your wit's end

So, you’re at your wit’s end. The four walls are closing in, your kids are starting to drive you crazy, you’re losing patience with your spouse; your finances are in a shambles and you can’t find a moment of peace to be by yourself. Or, maybe you’re living alone and you're so lonely and isolated that you just can’t bear it. What do you do when after more than eight weeks of social distancing you’re on your very last nerve?

People have been getting up to some strange behaviour lately. Last weekend I had to pick up some supplies and I noticed that so many of the cars on the highway were speeding, weaving in and out and cutting each-other off in a way that I’ve never seen before. Someone in Ontario recently was clocked going over 300 kilometers per hour. It makes me think that some people are acting out their frustration behind the wheel of their vehicles – which can’t be a good thing.

Lately I’m hearing a lot of people saying that they’re totally fed up. They’re on the verge of losing their cool. It’s all getting to be too much. But it’s more important than ever to keep up the social distancing. We’re seeing how, when businesses and social venues are opened up too soon, a huge spike in infections follows and then everything has to shut down again and it takes that much longer for things to go back to the way they used to be.

At times like this, what we need most is some psychological tools to help us to “keep calm and carry on.” And when I think of what we need, right now, to help us make it through the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, I’m reminded of the habits of super-successful people.

The difference between someone who achieves enormous personal and professional success and someone who doesn’t is not how smart they are, how connected they are, or how rich they were to begin with. It all comes down to a few basic habits that anyone can adopt.

In these strange and frightening times when everything is so intense and uncertain, everyone could use all the support they can get. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, fed up, frustrated, aggravated, despondent, helpless, hopeless or just plain mad, here’s my list of the 12 habits of super-successful people that will take you from teetering on the edge of the mental health cliff to feeling cool, calm and collected.

1. Patience: You need to be able to wait for things to get better. Being patient helps you get through long stretches of difficulties. It’s represented by the famous quote, “Good things come to those who wait.”

2. Presence: Being present means being fully awake, aware, and engaged in the present moment, as opposed to being distracted, disconnected or dissociated. Being present empowers you to see exactly what’s going on and to deal in the best possible manner with whatever might arise. You can practice mindfulness meditation to help you become more present in the moment.

3. Perseverance: Super-successful people are able to carry on, even when things are tough. They keep going despite the obstacles and the challenges and despite the fact that they don’t feel like it. Super-successful people keep  going because it’s what has to be done, and they never give up.

4. Perspective: Super-successful people are able to take a step back and see the big picture. With greater perspective they can understand the reasons for the hard choices everyone has to make right now. With perspective, it’s that much easier to keep up the social distancing and hygiene.

5. Kindness: Numerous studies have shown that acts of kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness are going to make you feel better and help you to get through difficult times with a lot less stress.

6. Self-soothing: it’s essential that you learn how to talk yourself down from the ceiling. You also have to silence the critical inner voice that makes you feel bad about yourself. When you learn how to do soothing self-talk you’ll be able to calm down, feel better and be more reassured.

7. Acceptance: A lot of people think that they need to be “in control” but in reality, we can’t control anything. Super-successful people know that control isn’t possible but there’s always a choice of how to deal with any situation. Your first lesson in letting go of control is in accepting the new normal. Acceptance not the same as being passive or giving up. In fact, it empowers you to acknowledge the reality of your situation and to deal with it head-on.

8. Tolerating uncertainty: We’re living with loads of question marks these days and it’s really challenging. Super-successful people are okay with the unknown because they trust in their ability to deal with whatever comes their way. You can work on tolerating the uncertainty by trusting that within you is everything you need to survive and to thrive.

9. Humour: Laughter decreases stress and increases well-being. When you bring a sense of humour into these difficult times, it helps to lift the burden from yourself and from everyone around you. Humour releases endorphins that boost your well-being. It’s uplifting and healing.

10. Resilience: Resilience is the ability to see adversity as an opportunity for learning, growth positive change. Resilience is the art of turning lemons into lemonade. You can use this difficult situation as a springboard to greater awareness, compassion, connection and success.

11. Sacrifice: Super-successful people are willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve their goals. They’ll give up their free time, defer their salary, toil in obscurity, and work long hours to attain success. These days, our sacrifices consist of being cooped up at home, feeling overwhelmed or bored and lonely; or being on the front lines, risking our safety. These sacrifices are essential so that things can return to normal sooner rather than later. Sacrifices aren’t easy but if we’re prepared to make them things will be a lot better for everyone.

12. Courage: Courage is doing what’s difficult, even when you’re afraid and when you really don’t want to do it. Super-successful people exhibit emotional courage. They face their challenges head-on and they don’t run away from their problems. This enables them to resolve the majority of their difficulties and to reach the greatest peaks of success.

If you can bring even a few of these attitudes to the new normal, you'll find that not only will you make it through the pandemic in one piece, you're likely to come away a wiser, stronger, and more compassionate person.

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