Written by Dr Caroline Marlow, a Chartered Psychologist specialising in wellbeing and performance psychology and Director of L&M Consulting Ltd.
How we interact and live with our families, partners, and house-mates, and how we communicate remotely with work colleagues during the corona virus stay at home period can greatly influence all of our mental health, psychological wellbeing and resilience. Everyone may well be experiencing the situation differently, with different concerns, pressures, and maybe positives. Family resilience and functioning research and our experience of working both remotely and in close living conditions in high pressure, high stakes environments forwards certain collective beliefs as key to everyone’s positive coping and resilience. This article outlines these belief with the aim of helping you to proactively live, share and encourage them at this difficult time.
A belief is an opinion or something that a person holds to be true and beyond question. They enable our brains to make energy-saving short cuts in how we collect, evaluate and assimilate information into our understanding, and thus affect our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Most importantly, beliefs are a crucial component of our personality and identity, helping us to make sense of who we are and how we exist amongst others.
Our beliefs also have great influence on others as they define the way others see us and enable shared views of the world. Of particular interest to our living with others, research also shows that our beliefs of others often elicit behaviour from them that corresponds and thus confirms our expectations and beliefs of them. This is thought to be due to how beliefs influence how we understand and behave towards others.
Research supports the following beliefs as important for promoting positive collective adaptation, hope and resilience, and for enabling action when we’re feeling stuck. There is no doubt that they and their influence will be familiar to you, but actively consider which are most useful to you now and whether/how you are living, inspiring and reinforcing them in yourself and others. Each are presented with an example, “We are…” belief statement.
Cohesion: We are in this together.
This could well be your strength – Teamwork! If everyone has a common purpose, does their bit, and supports and cares for each other, then everyone gains. Avoid blame; take responsibility for your part and look to help enable and empower others.
Adaptable: We can adapt.
As a species we have a proven ability to adapt and know that adaptability is the key to survival – yet we are typically resistant to change. Yes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but accepting change will ensure that we don’t miss the chance to consider what and how we can adapt now for better current and future times.
Control: We can only control what we can and we accept what we can’t.
Believe in the possible, but be realistic in what you can expect to achieve with the resources available. Focus your energy on what you can change. Don’t waste valuable resources on what you can’t. If you have children, let them know what you as a family are in control of and that you have a plan – even if it might take a while to come to fruition.
Positive Outlook and Meaning: We can usually find positives in adversity.
This can be hard in difficult times, but finding positive meaning in what you are experiencing and focusing on any current and potential future positives is empowering and motivating.
Confidence: We can survive this and even flourish.
Focus on and believe in your individual and collective strengths and abilities. Inevitably you will have exceeded your limits and expectations previously. The circumstances and needs might be different now, but consider how you can do it again.
Gratitude: We can always find something that we can be thankful for.
Gratitude is a state of thankfulness felt most when we appreciate what is valuable and meaningful to us. Adversity can be our friend in that it can encourage us to consider and realign with what is important.
Worldview: We are an important part of a bigger picture.
‘Stay at home’ is based on this. Believing this does not require you to dismiss what you are experiencing, but it encourages finding a personal link to the bigger world to help provide meaning or a sense of belonging. If you have children, explain and reinforce how their actions are making a positive difference for others. For some, spiritual connections provide strong coping mechanisms.
Humour: We can still laugh together.
Those who work in the harshest conditions often cite humour as a defining feature in their ability to cope and to maintain bond with others. Always be sensitive to where others are, but laughter serves a social and survival function in communicating that we want to connect and cooperate.
It is certainly OK to be feeling worried, stressed or that you are struggling right now. The key when considering which beliefs are helpful to you right now, is to be honest – it will be harder to convince yourself or others if you don’t’ believe it. Typically though, at least some of the above beliefs will ring true for you and those you live with. Consider how they can be conveyed and reinforced around the home. Ideas might include:
In Others …
I hope this article helps you to reinforce the beliefs that will be positive for you at this time and to maintain the resources you all need for any challenges ahead.
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L&M’s doctoral-level, psychological expertise in health, wellbeing and behaviour change enables us to provide the support to help you regain control of your physical health and psychological wellbeing, and to flourish. Please see here for our personal development-based support. We can also provide health and wellbeing presentations, workshops and away days for organisations.
Contact. Please contact L&M Consulting Ltd if you would like to discuss your or your organisations’s specific needs and how our services can help you achieve your aims.
L&M’s Other Covid 19 ‘Stay at Home’ and ‘Coming Back Stronger’ Related Articles
– Is It OK To …? Answering the New Questions that Affect Our Psychological Wellbeing.
– The Power of Belief: How to Promote Each other’s Mental Health, Coping and Resilience During Covid-19 ‘Stay at Home’
– Living With Others: How to Look After Everyone’s Mental Health During Covid-19 Stay at Home
– Coming Back Stronger: Communicating Effectively With Each Other.
– Coming Back Stronger: Solving Problems Effectively Together