As 2021 unfolds in transformative ways, we are fast approaching a less than celebratory anniversary. On March 11th, 2020 the C.D.C. declared COVID-19 a pandemic and our lives dramatically shifted. Almost a year later, we have adapted our entire ways of being to fit a lifestyle that is arguably the antithesis of how human beings usually operate. It is difficult to imagine a time where we could socialize with loved ones without a mask on.
It is completely understandable that many of us may be feeling intense fatigue these days. Sometimes when I feel extra critical of my productivity or negative feelings, I remind myself just how much strength and resilience my community and I have had to access over the past year.
Despite these present challenges, I think this time actually presents us with a beautiful opportunity for growth. As an executive wellness coach with my firm Acheloa Wellness, I inspire my clients to incorporate holistic well-being into their daily lives. If we want to thrive in 2021 and beyond, we need to empower ourselves with positive thinking. I am a firm believer that how we speak and act indicates the level of positivity in our life. When you continue to proclaim this time as a failure and a hardship, you will see those qualities reflected in your daily life.
In order to address pandemic fatigue, I’ve incorporated positive thoughts and mental resilience practices into my day-to-day routines. The sooner we can embrace all facets of wellness — not just physical, but mental and emotional — the sooner we end our cycles of anxiety and burnout. When you commit to these six actions with intention and consistency, you will see the trajectory of your life change for the better.
1. Be Compassionate: Do Not Criticize
You know that feeling when you want to pick at yourself or others close to you? We’re all familiar with the impulse to communicate in an overly critical fashion. During this time when workplace burnout, depression and anxiety are on the rise, it is crucial that we re-evaluate our communication habits and styles.
When you stop being overly critical, your work and relationships will improve. You may even notice this feeling of positivity impacting the way your body feels. Managing your stress starts and ends with embracing wellness in all five of your senses.
2. Be Tolerant: Trade Expectations for Appreciation
This one is all about perspective–sometimes we want to be control freaks, am I right? Yearning for control is understandable, particularly during a time of uncertainty. But when we trade expectations for appreciation, we actually feel less out of control.
I want to give you an example: Perhaps the company you work for couldn’t afford to give you the raise you wanted this year. You could complain and wallow in despair. Or you can appreciate that you have income when so many do not. By incorporating positive thought and gratitude into your approach to life’s challenges, you will start to feel lighter and more motivated.
3. Be Empathetic: Don’t Hesitate to Apologize
Have you hurt someone’s feelings even though you think you haven’t done anything wrong? Apologize. But what if you think they didn’t understand your side of the story? Yes, still apologize. If someone says you hurt them and you do not address their grievances, resentment will build.
I will give you a personal example: I was in a work setting when I found out that someone was upset with me. At first, I was confused and a bit frustrated. In the past, I would have asked her clarifying questions, proving that she needed to see things my way. But I decided to practice what I preach and immediately apologized. I asked her if there was any way that I could have better collaborated with her. She seemed surprised, likely expecting me to instigate an argument. In that moment, I witnessed an immediate shift in her mood, which led to a collaborative conversation instead of a combative one.
4. Be Grounded: Do Not Take Offense
This is arguably one of the toughest changes to enact. When we feel backed into a corner or triggered, we often go to a defensive place. We take offense quickly without reflecting on the fact that someone’s hurtful behavior usually comes from a place of pain.
Instead of carrying around the burden of taking offense, release that negativity. Like water off a duck’s back, try to quickly forgive the person for your own sense of peace. They will learn by example from your tolerance and you can continue to maintain positive thinking practices.
5. Be Optimistic: Let Others Know You See the Best in Them
When we endure challenging circumstances for a long period of time, our patience wears thin. As a result our interpersonal relationships suffer. We place unfair expectations on others or take out our frustration on our coworkers and loved ones. As a result, those close to us will often match our negative energy and we will feel isolated. It’s a vicious cycle.
You can break that cycle by consciously looking for the best in others. When you see someone push themselves or succeed, express your admiration. When you see the best in others, they will often rise to your belief in them. In turn, you will both treat each other with more respect and compassion.
6. Be Grateful: Swap the Negativity for Gratitude
This one is key. Despite the abundant challenges of this year, I alway refer back to my sense of gratitude for the positive parts of my life. Gratitude keeps me grounded when stress, burnout or pandemic fatigue begin to weigh on me.
I’ll give you a real world example: One of the most common complaints I’ve heard in the past year is issues with sleep. When I am having a hard time waking up in the morning or losing sleep at night due to stress, I always refer back to the importance of gratitude. A bountiful morning routine starts with a prayer or affirmation that helps you get in touch with your sense of gratitude for another day.
As we near this bitter-sweet anniversary, I encourage you to reflect on your growth this year. Even if you’re experiencing the effects of pandemic fatigue, try to reframe those negative feelings with positive affirmations. We may be approaching a dark anniversary, but we are also nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s try to let go of setting ourselves up for failure with negative expectations and appreciate the start of a new journey in 2021.