3 Practices to Survive the Winter of COVID-19

Expert opinions on how to stay resilient in the upcoming months ahead.

Posted Dec 08, 2020

Filip Zrnzević/Unsplash
Source: Filip Zrnzević/Unsplash

I’m sure all of us are exhausted and feeling the weight of entering into yet another month of quarantine and COVID-19. These past few months have been full of unexpected new normals, the majority of life happening on screens rather than in person. Now the cold months are upon us, and our social and physical outlets of being able to see some change in scenery and leave the house are becoming more and more limited. Sources of hope and renewal now are being taken away as the days get shorter and darker.

This year has been hard—and it’s about to get harder.

We’re all drained and ready for some positive change. However, until that day comes, we need to keep pushing through, choosing to stay hopeful and resilient even in the midst of the constant chaos and disappointment. 

In this post, psychological experts weigh in on how the practices of deep listening, gratitude, and self-care can help in the process of staying resilient in the upcoming months ahead.

Practice Listening Deeply

I believe in the power of deep listening. It can be a powerful way of healing and cultivating hope in times of difficulty and uncertainty. We may not have a job to offer our friends who lost a job or we may not have enough money to give to our loved ones who are in debt, but we definitely have ears to listen to those who are in trouble. When life gets tough, our mind is often full of negative emotions such as frustration, disappointment, pain, anxiety, and fear. I believe that what most of us need during such difficult times is to be relieved from those negative emotions, and only a quiet mind can calm down negative emotions.

The main challenge is that when hearing people talk about their problems or expressing their negative feelings, what we often do is offer advice—telling them to do or not to do various things from our own perspectives. In contrast, what people normally need in times of stress is not advice but understanding. Advice in itself is not inherently unhelpful, but advice before understanding is unhelpful. Providing advice without understanding one’s actual concerns may lead to increased stress and frustration. So, to be able to listen deeply, we have to be fully present with others and listen to them with intent.

- Chomphunut Srichannil, Faculty of Education, Burapha University

Practice Gratitude

The human psyche is drawn to giving more attention and credence to negative experiences. It is much easier to remember the sting of an insult or harsh feedback than to enjoy a compliment. Focusing on the negative takes no effort at all, and when it is in abundant supply we do not even need to focus; it seems to be everywhere and in everything. Gratitude, on the other hand, takes effort. We have to choose to give it time and space in our minds. It is, however, the necessary balance to thriving through adversity. I have seen both extremes—only naming the negative or only naming the positive—to have disastrous results. When we only see the negative, we can feel swallowed by the pain; when we only allow ourselves to see the positive, we deny and suppress the pain.

Resilience is not pretending you are fine when you are not fine, and it is not ignoring the pain by focusing only on what you can be grateful for. Resilience is being present during each day of the trial, naming what is hard and painful so you waste no energy in holding on to it. Gratitude is giving yourself permission to experience light and hope before the trial ends.

- Karen Hurula, interim director of the Wheaton College Counseling Center

Practice Self-Care

Self-Care is an intentional, preventative, continual effort of recognizing that in order to care well for others, we must reflect on, identify, and tend to our own bio-psycho-social-spiritual needs and that we are worth caring for ourselves.

By having a self-care toolbox filled with diverse strategies that tend to our whole being for various scenarios, we are much better positioned to live with a grounded and embodied resilience for when stressors and crises arise.

To the best of our ability, we must be with and feel the rising emotions tied to these difficult situations, rather than numb, bypass, or avoid the emotions, in order to discern what our next step(s) should be, including which self-care strategies we rely on or perhaps suggest to others. By being with the emotions, caring for our own holistic needs, navigating this season one day at a time, trusting we are doing the best we can with what we have, and reaching out for help when needed, we give others permission to do the same. 

- Holly Oxhandler, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Associate Professor at Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work

Conclusion

Overall, my hope is that these expert reflections shared above will help you stay resilient in the upcoming months ahead as you navigate COVID-19 this winter. For more resources on how to cope with COVID-19, as well as get trained in Spiritual First Aid, check out our new Spiritual First Aid online training & certificate course and spiritualfirstaidhub.com.

About the Author: Elli Halloran is an M.A. student at the Humanitarian and Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. She earned her B.S. in Psychology and minor in Bible & Theology in May of 2020 and is on track to receive her M.A. in Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership in May of 2021.