Pandemic burnout is a real thing. For Good Vibes Only page, we’ll be sharing articles that help readers deal with stress, cope with burnout by creating awareness and hopefully, inspiring others.
It goes without saying that the last few years have been ones that have not been easy. However, with the additional stresses from the impact of the Coronavirus landing firmly on our already fairly stressed minds and bodies, we all need a little something to help with our mental health concerns.
Author of ‘The Forgotten Choice: Shift Your Inner Mindset, Shape Your Outer World’ and professional leadership coach Brenda Bence knows quite a bit about how many of us have had trouble dealing with life in the 2020s.
“Anytime something new and unexpected happens, it’s normal to experience stress as a reaction. After all, there’s no history to rely on, no pattern of recognition, nothing to reapply from the past,” explains Ms Bence.
“But when that ‘something unexpected’ is as potentially life-threatening as a pandemic, stress can turn into high levels of anxiety. So, in the early stages of COVID-19, when the reality of the situation set in and we were in lockdown, I - like many people - experienced stress and asked myself a lot of questions: How would this all play out? What did this mean for me, my family, my business?”
Every day, I would choose purposefully to appreciate what was going well. Once I started looking, there was so much to be grateful for, despite all seeming evidence to the contrary - and there were days with a lot of seeming evidence to the contrary!
Ms Bence says this led her to purposefully choosing to pivot, not just her business or how she communicated with clients, but also to change how she dealt with her own internal concerns and issues. “Because I knew that what I think and feel on the inside about what is going on on the outside will impact the outcomes I get. What we focus on grows, so I watched carefully where I was placing my mental attention,” says Ms Bence.
First, she chose to focus on the things that she could control, like being “fully in charge of what we think and believe, how we act, react, look, sound, what we eat and drink, how much we sleep, how much exercise we get, and on and on”. This helped her realise that we actually control more of our lives than we might think during the panic of life-changing so rapidly due to outside problems.
“Every day, I would choose purposefully to appreciate what was going well. Once I started looking, there was so much to be grateful for, despite all seeming evidence to the contrary - and there were days with a lot of seeming evidence to the contrary! Technology allowed me to stay in touch with family, friends, team members, clients and keep my business running, no matter what. Groceries could be ordered online and delivered.
“As a busy business owner who was constantly travelling before the pandemic, I appreciated the time to catch up on projects that would create new value for my clients. I explored new ways of learning to live and work, and that came with a sense of possibility, potentiality,” Ms Bence says.
Alongside these positive aspects, Ms Bence said she also took stock of her actions and reactions over time, keeping an eye open to changes in her moods. For example, if she felt that she was becoming more fearful, she would acknowledge it and look at how she could “reframe it” into something more manageable.
The Joy of Possibility
This focus on reimagining how fear can be turned around and repurposed into something more helpful is the basis of Ms Bence’s concept of the Joy of Possibility.
“When the world outside is in a complete state of disruption, it can create a state of fear. And fear creates more fear. So, the key to shifting away from that is to disrupt the one thing inside us that can create long-term, sustainable, and positive outcomes: your mindset,” explains Ms Bence.
“Your mental wellbeing is directly impacted by how you choose to think. Are you viewing events from a place of fear or a place of potentiality?”
This is why she calls the opposite of fear, the “Joy of Possibility”. “The Joy of Possibility thought system is full of joy, and it’s experienced as a complete absence of fear. It’s through this state of joy that what was previously just potential now becomes possible,” says Ms Bence.
“When you choose to look at experiences with the Joy of Possibility, there is a profound sense of “what could be.” It’s characterised by openness, limitlessness, clarity, curiosity, and creativity.”
Do a gut check, and if your emotion is anything other than open, enthusiastic, and seeing the world as full of potential and without limits, you’re most likely in a state of fear.
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Three ways to use the Joy of Possibility to help manage anxiety
1. Strengthen your self-awareness muscle
We all have the ability to develop our self-awareness, like any other skill we want to strengthen. One example of this is pausing and asking yourself at any point in time, “Am I in a state of fear, or am I looking at a situation or event through the lens of potentiality?” Keep this up regularly, and just like going to the gym, strong self-awareness – and taking charge of the way you think - will become second nature to you.
2. Stay in the present
As humans, we are often either rehashing the past or worrying about the future. But both of those “time zones” are often steeped in fear, either reliving what went wrong in the past or imagining what might go wrong in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
On the other hand, the Joy of Possibility – which is at the base of a mindset of potentiality – exists in the here-and-now. So, start observing your mind and ask yourself: What per cent of your mental market share is spent remembering the past or dramatising about the future? Or, are you actually being in the present, fully at the moment?
3. Recognise the stealth nature of fear
Often, fear is hard to identify because it doesn’t show up on the surface looking like fear at all. Fear may be lurking underneath a thought or situation without even realising it. One example: We often hear, “Think positively!” but positive thinking can be a shield we put up to protect ourselves from fear, such as the fear of being vulnerable.
How can you tell if you are in a state of fear? The answer lies in how you feel. Do a gut check, and if your emotion is anything other than open, enthusiastic, and seeing the world as full of potential and without limits, you’re most likely in a state of fear.
The Forgotten Choice: Shift Your Inner Mindset, Shape Your Outer World can be bought at Books Kinokuniya; all stores and online at Books Kinokuniya: The Forgotten Choice: Shift Your Inner Mindset, Shape Your Outer World / Bence, Brenda (9781942718079); Popular Book Co (all stores); Times (Jelita and Waterway Point); and on Amazon Singapore: The Forgotten Choice: Shift Your Inner Mindset, Shape Your Outer World: Bence, Brenda: Amazon.sg: Books