The research shows us that there is a strong correlation between how we think, or “appraise” a difficult event and what emotions arise, or how we “feel” about the event. Often the reverse is true too, but today, as we all make our way through this COVID pandemic, it is worth noting a few thinking or appraisal styles that can improve how we feel, and by virtue, build our resilience stores.
The first is referred to as the “challenge appraisal” style. This involves treating all the difficulties the COVID pandemic has created as “challenges to be overcome”. If we can frame our struggles in this way, we can start to feel empowered and confident as we cope with them. You don’t need to handle a life-altering challenge to feel better about dealing with it, simply getting some groceries or connecting with a client or colleague at work can be a real hurdle these days and these are things worth feeling good about!
Another is adopting what is called an “optimistic explanatory” style of thinking - in a nutshell looking to the bright side of things (while accepting the dark side is still present). Adopting this style of thinking, that things are going to get better, helps us move away from the notion of permanence, that the negative sides of the COVID pandemic will exist forever. A great example of this style in action is watching Dr. Bonnie Henry, our Provincial Health Officer, when she describes our social restrictions by saying, “this is just for now, it’s not forever”.
Finally, there is ‘benefit finding’ which is simply recognizing the lessons we all learn from challenging or negative events in our past. We have all done this but the process of actually focusing on and assessing what life lessons we have gained from those trying events in our past helps us realize that, whether we like it or not, this COVID pandemic is teaching us things that will make our lives fuller and more manageable in the future.
At LAPBC, we are thinking about all of you. We are available any time to support you, so please reach out to us confidentially.