Have you ever watched a butterfly emerge from its cocoon? It struggles against the hardened shell of the chrysalis — pushing and relaxing and pushing again — until finally breaking open and freeing itself from the shell.
Does that sound like something you might be feeling as we emerge from the isolation of COVID-19? For some of us, it, too, is a struggle. Even positive change can provoke anxiety, which is often driven by uncertainty, so “adjusting to our new normal” may be challenging.
Robert Cappuccio, VRC’s Director of Coaching, Cultural Development and Behavior Change, helped us put things in perspective.
“Our environment dramatically affects our mental state and therefore our behaviors. And when our environment becomes highly unpredictable due to factors outside of our control, that threatens one of our primal universal needs, which is, security, safety… we all want to feel a sense of safety.”
Robert and other experts agree that the key to taming uncertainty is to take a good look at our values: what is it that’s really important to each of us?
“Think about a time in your life where things were amazing. What were the emotions you were feeling, what activities were you consistently engaged in, who was there, and what was going on in your environment. There are a lot of clues as to what you value.”
Friends, family, and community members whom you trust can help you clarify your values, and so can the VEBA Resource Center (VRC).
“The VRC and I strongly agree that when you exercise your values and you express them out in the world, they are expressed as your unique signature strengths. Another question is, ‘Can you remember a time where things were unpredictable, where you were afraid, where you did feel threatened, yet you persevered?’ Well, if you look at what you did to get through that, a lot of times you’ll see that those were signature strengths that you’ve utilized in almost every challenging circumstance throughout your life, and you’ll see a pattern there, and those strengths emerge from what you value.”
Robert cautions that successfully emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be boiled down to a general list of tips. The journey is different for each of us. However, the ideas shared below help provide a strong foundation.
- Set realistic expectations: We have enough going on right now without adding pressure to get this done immediately. Think about your values like a stew. Put in some ingredients and let it simmer.
- Exercise: This will get you out of your head.
- Eat Well: Fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains (cut back on refined sugars) help fuel your comeback. Find a new recipe to try here.
- Sleep: Put away your electronics at least one hour before heading to bed and aim for at least seven (7) hours of real sleep. Here are some tips on sleep from the VRC.
- Community: Reach out to friends, family, groups you enjoy. Reconnecting with each other will help us feel supported.
“Think of the VRC kind of like a carpenter: the tools in the toolbox are not houses and the houses have no value until somebody moves in and says, ‘This is where I’m going to raise my family (a values-driven statement).’ It all starts with how we use this combination of tools to build what we truly want. The VRC gives you the tools so you can build whatever result you want in your life, not just related to health and wellness, but you as a whole person.”
Emerging wholly — like the butterfly — feels even more possible when you have the support you need. Learn more here about the VRC’s Care Navigation program and schedule your one-on-one session with a Care Navigator today.