Kubala provides guidance on how to practice resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, which allowed frontline workers like grocery store workers to heal early in the pandemic, he said.
Kubala, who practices in New York and Pennsylvania, said recovery is more challenging when the difficulties of living with Covid-19 seem endless.
Humans inherently want things to be logical and we love a beginning, middle and end, he said.
“When we don’t have an easily identifiable end,” Kubala said, “it can cause some excessive worry that leads to anxiety.”
Resilience is a skill, not a personality trait, so you can strengthen it with a variety of strategies, she said.
Many people mistakenly believe that mindfulness only involves meditation, but it’s also about being in the moment, Kubala said.
One way to do that, he said, is to pay attention to your five senses. Focus on what you hear, see, taste, smell and touch when you’re feeling overwhelmed, Kubala said.
“Recognizing what’s happening in that moment can sometimes calm us down and allow us to move forward in a more predictable, stable way,” he said.
Have a consistent routine
Some people like to keep a daily routine, which helps them feel more in control of their lives, said Jason Moser, a professor of clinical science, cognition and cognitive neuroscience at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
A routine can include anything that has positively affected your mental health in the past, such as having a sleep schedule or eating a healthy diet, she said.
Exercising outdoors is another healthy activity to add to your skills toolbox and can be done with a partner, Moser said.
Nature allows you to broaden your perspective, said Ethan Cross, professor of psychology and management and organizations at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. When he goes for a walk, he constantly tries to look at the trees, some of which may have grown for hundreds of years, he said.
“I’ve only been here a few decades, and this tree has stood through all kinds of things like tornadoes and it’s still standing,” Cross said.
Build a strong community
Building a strong support network of people you care about is one of the most powerful strategies for coping with adversity, Moser said.
It allows you to talk about what you’re going through in a safe space and get advice from others with different perspectives, she said.
When you’re suffering, you may feel like you’re alone, Moser said, but talking about problems with others and realizing you’re not alone can be comforting.
Other people can increase your level of accountability to adopt healthy habits or achieve goals, she said.
If you have another person you can hold accountable for a morning walk or twice-weekly run, that social element can help make certain healthy habits stick, Moser said.
Talk to yourself like a friend
Cross said that people are better off giving advice to others about emotional problems than themselves and following it.
One coping strategy, she said, is to change your perspective and start talking to yourself as if you were talking to another person.
For example, in difficult times, “How do you handle the situation?” Ask yourself that. Then advise yourself, Cross said.
“It helps them change their perspective, they start talking to themselves like they’re talking to another person,” she said, “which often leads to smarter ways of handling situations.”