5 Keys to Taking Back your Power during the Pandemic

Joyce Talag

In Touch Volunteer

Fairly productive individuals are used to having their identities defined by what they do and who they are in the world so when the pandemic happened and quarantines had to be imposed, many felt like they lost both their identities and sense of power.

How did you feel when you learned that the virus that is afflicting individuals by the hundreds of thousands has already reached your immediate community? And that all your carefully laid out plans for 2020 had to be stalled, if not totally cancelled?

If you felt disappointed, worried, scared, or helpless, you are not alone.

The ripple effects of COVID-19 and the corresponding measures to contain it were so out of the ordinary that even the wealthiest nations and strongest institutions were overwhelmed and needed to take a pause to find a proper response. As a professional or a business owner who is used to being in control of your time and circumstance, you may have also struggled to keep yourself up after being thrust into a unique situation that not only limited your movements and interactions, but even your personal progress.

In Touch Counseling Psychologist Len Hizon attributes the current mental health issues of working professionals to the sense of powerlessness and lack of control that they experience while in quarantine and isolation. “Fairly productive individuals are used to having their identities defined by what they do and who they are in the world so when the pandemic happened and quarantines had to be imposed, many felt like they lost both their identities and sense of power.”

Len believes that in a time when the usual suggestions do not work, helping people find concrete solutions by themselves is fundamental to building resilience. She shares these five mental keys that can help you take back your power and achieve balance in your life while in the midst of the pandemic:

Photo by Elina Fairytale
  • You are not the only one.

    When caught up in a crisis, it is a normal tendency for people to focus on themselves. However, when this tendency affects your functionality, it helps to consider that the threat of COVID-19 is so widespread, almost everyone around the world is going through the same thoughts and emotions as you do. Knowing that you are not the only one experiencing this will enable you to gain a better perspective about your situation and take more appropriate actions in response.

 

  • Go outside of yourself.

    Knowing now that you are not alone, what you can do is to lead your attention to your surroundings, which may include your family, neighborhood, or the bigger community around you. Try to find out what is needed and what you can do to help.

 

  • Dig in your coping tool box.

    The answer to what you can do varies, depending not only on your situation, but also on your own capacity for coping and functionality at the moment. As a counselor, Len approaches individuals on a case-to-case basis. “Some people have better coping and problem-solving strategies than others, and it is important to understand that those who are successful in work or business do not necessarily have the same coping strategies for their emotional lives and relationships,” explains Len. As such, what she does is to help people find the strengths that they already have and develop practices that can strengthen these even more.

 

  • Apply your strengths to the situation.

    Len talks about personalities like Mario*, a highly-efficient operations manager at a large company, who found himself struggling with feelings of isolation and helplessness during lockdown. On his way to the supermarket one day, he saw that many of his neighbors could not go out to buy their essentials because of family members who were at risk. This little discovery inspired him to tap into his professional expertise and make use of his organizing skills and logistics management experiences. What started as simple errands for his neighbors soon became a community concierge service. Doing this gave Mario some sense of meaning and control, being able to use his strengths for a good purpose.

 

  • When you feel out of your norm, remember that self-care isn’t selfish.

    Even when quarantine restrictions have been eased, social distancing can still exacerbate feelings of isolation when you keep your thoughts to yourself. To illustrate a solution, Len draws an analogy between people and whistling kettles. When there is so much pressure from heat, there is a chance that you will explode. Talking to someone can be that little hole that vents the steam. You may talk to a friend, see your counselor online, or call the Crisis Line at +63 2 8893-7603, +63 917 800 1123, or + 63 922 8938944.

    As you approach the next phase of your personal and professional life or business, remembering these five keys will help you stay focused on what matters and navigate your new normal with greater ease and confidence.

 

​*The character stated is not representative of a specific case but a composite of the counselor’s psychotherapy work in dealing with workplace issues.

Maria Belen “Len” M. Hizon provides individual and group psychotherapy geared towards empowering clients to learn strategies to better cope with day-to-day stressors, episodes of depression, and anxiety management.  Additionally, she runs psycho-educational talks and workshops focusing on recognizing the onset of possible episodes of anxiety and depression to enable a proactive approach to managing symptoms.   Len is a licensed Psychologist (RPsy) in the Philippines as well as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Child Mental Health Specialist (CMHS), and Ethnic Minority Mental Health Specialist (EMMHS) in the State of Washington, USA.

Feature Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

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5 Keys to Taking Back your Power during the Pandemic

Fairly productive individuals are used to having their identities defined by what they do and who they are in the world so when the pandemic happened and quarantines had to be imposed, many felt like they lost both their identities and sense of power.

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