When we are in the midst of stressful and uncertain times, where we are faced with distressing changes within our lives, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be very difficult to see beyond the distress and challenges in front of you. As we posted about recently, during such times our attention is also often drawn to a focus on the negatives and problems, making getting perspective even more difficult.
To help shift and broaden your perspective and move forward during difficult times, asking yourself these below questions can help. But firstly, it is important to acknowledge the struggles and difficult experiences you are facing as a result of the stress – what negative changes in your world has the stressor brought about? What has been lost? What are the distressing emotions and thoughts that are pulling you into a struggle?
Then consider the following:
What hasn’t changed? What are the things that have stayed the same?
What has changed for the better? This might be a reassessment of what is important to you in life and where you want to invest your energies.
Has the stressor brought about any new possibilities/positives in your life?
What strengths or resources have you brought to the stressor or have been brought to your awareness – this could be your own qualities, social supports, or practical supports. What newfound strengths and resources has the stressor brought about, such as increased connectedness with others, new friendships, practical support?
What learnings will I take forward from moving through this stressor?
These questions are helpful to broaden our assumptions and perspective of a situation – to get the ‘whole picture’. However, it is important to recognise that timing in exploring these questions is important – particularly questions identifying positive changes and potentials. Depending where you are at with your journey through the stressor and your adjustment to it, you may need time to be able to consider these two questions. This is where first acknowledging and validating the difficult experiences and their impact is important.
If you are struggling to cope and move past the stressor you are facing in a healthy way, support is available. You may benefit from seeking professional support by speaking with your GP and potentially engaging with a psychologist.