19. September 2020
COVID-19 changed many things for many people. We probably all remember that day in March when we were sent home, to work from home, or even worse for those who were asked never to return. At the same time, our children were sent home from school to attend school from home. Families were locked inside their homes with different challenges.
Now six months later we are asked to return to our workplaces and schools. Returning to a life living with the risk of COVID-19 instead of avoiding the risk of infections by isolating ourselves.
So, how is it to return? Is it just as difficult as the beginning of lockdown when we had to work from home? I have talked to people about the difficulty of returning to work.
What I hear is:
- Life is suddenly stressful again.
- I do not feel safe
- I am afraid of other people and I used to love going out and be in the office with my colleagues.
- I miss the quiet mornings.
So – what can we do and how do we return to work?
The official guideline mention that you should not be sick, access to hand sanitizer, physical distancing, and other hygiene measures. However, in this blog, I want to address your mental state.
What can I do?
Someone recently asked me “you have studied positive psychology – just tell me how to stay positive when I find everything so difficult?”
However, positive psychology is not about being positive and happy all the time, this is not possible because life is not always easy, and we will experience difficulties along the way.
Positive psychology can be described as an umbrella for the science of human strengths and flourishing where topics and research such as values, meaning, resilience, strengths, and much more are studied.
So, when we experience difficulties what can we do?
– Maybe not giving in to the tyranny of positive thinking, instead accept that difficulties and negative feelings are part of life. Trust that better things are ahead of you and this is something you need to experience to get to the other side of the difficulty.
– Use your strength, focus on your strengths. Maybe tab into the strength of hope, where we focus on optimism and future orientation. Or use your strength of gratitude to be thankful of the good things in your life.
– Self-compassion is about treating yourself with compassion. The concept is about treating yourself as you would treat a friend. Think about it this way; if a friend is telling you “ohhhh, it is so hard getting back to work after 6 months at home with the family” – what would you say to that friend? Basically, you should tell yourself the same thing.
There are other ways to deal with difficulties in life, I would love to hear from you – what do you do for yourself?
Hefferon, K., & Boniwell, I. (2011). Positive psychology: Theory, research and applications. McGraw-Hill.
Neff, K., & Germer, C. K. (2018). The mindful self-compassion workbook: A proven way to accept yourself, build inner strength, and thrive. The Guilford Press
Niemiec, R. M., & McGrath, R. E. (2019). The power of character strengths: Appreciate and ignite your positive personality. The VIA Institute on Character