Student, Dubai Scholars Private School (DUBAI)
Shifting from a fixed to a growth mindset will help us change the challenges, we experience in this pandemic, to opportunities
“August 28th, 2020,
The numbers of those affected by the virus go up by hundreds every day! Of course, I am safe and comfortable at home, yet, why do I still feel a bit scared and upset?”
For the greater part of this year, students in Oman have been homebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Online school, zoom catch-up calls, webinars and Netflix binging are now our new normal. As ‘relaxing’ as this new lifestyle may seem, the truth is, it isn’t too easy on our mental health. We are missing out on significant occasions of our adolescence like graduation, prom and birthdays. We are also combating the anxiety of an uncertain future with regards to university applications, final exams and financial burdens. Moreover, as we reluctantly embark on the path of adulthood, we realise that we have a responsibility to look after ourselves and others in our families/communities.
Any silver lining?
As much as this pandemic feels like an unprecedented situation, humankind has successfully emerged from various epidemics in the past. For instance, research on the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong shows that the epidemic fostered better family and social support, mental health awareness and healthier lifestyle. This social support helped individuals overcome negative emotions of anxiety, fear and sorrow. Similarly, in Oman there are several mental health resources: Not Alone Oman’s Instagram page/webinars and the Oman emergency hotline offers 24-hour service to people in Oman who are in distress, in crisis, or at risk of suicide. Number to dial during an emergency: 9999.
Being resilient in these uncertain times
A mental strength that can help us adapt to these tough times is emotional resilience: our ability to mentally adapt to stressful situations and ‘roll with the punches’. We can all build our emotional resilience by harbouring positive emotions of hope, love and gratitude. We must have hope and pray that the world will successfully be able to overcome this pandemic, have gratitude towards our loved ones, country and frontline workers, and show love to all the people who risk their lives every day to support the country.
Make conscious effort to be positive
We can also achieve positivity by curating the information we consume, especially since negative news travels faster and wider on social media. Turn your social media into a safe space, filter the posts you want to see and only believe news updates from reliable and credible sources. Make a conscious effort to read about and remember good news amidst the pandemic. Like getting ‘front row seats’ to Instagram concerts by John Legend, Billie Eilish and Chris Martin. And koalas multiplying, pandas parenting after 13 years, a flock of pink flamingos appearing in the heart of Mumbai city!
Adjust to the new normal
As students adjust to the new reality of online classes, psychologists recommend many strategies to remain productive. Firstly, we should restructure our goals. For example, reframe the vague and daunting goal of, “complete exam syllabus” to the more specific, “complete chapters 2 and 3 today”. Another technique is giving ourselves actionationables, for example, “If I am going to have lunch today then I must also complete two chapters today.” (This only works if your ‘if’ activities are certain or regular.)
Hang out with loved ones virtually
It’s ironic that despite all the social media apps we have at our fingertips, and the amount of time we spend on them, there are moments when we feel utterly disconnected and alone. To combat this, there are several innovative and interesting ways to ‘hang out’ with loved ones virtually. Maybe try hosting a fun game night over Zoom? My friends and I spent an entire Friday evening playing Skribbl, a free multiplayer drawing and guessing game, online. At the end of it we felt refreshed and laughed till we cried at each other’s non-existent drawing skills.
Respect body, nourish mind
With soaring anxiety and negative feelings swirling in our minds, it is important to reach out to people you can trust and talk to them about your feelings and concerns. Relieve times of high anxiety with physical exercise. Even a brisk walk or jog will enhance your mental well-being. Make a conscious effort to limit your caffeine and energy drinks consumption as they make it difficult to relax and also increase feelings of anxiety. Respect your body, nourish your mind, be kind to yourself and everyone.
Shift from fixed to growth mindset
Adjusting to this new normal requires a shift in our mindset from a fixed mindset (a belief that our abilities are set in stone), to a growth mindset, a belief that we can cultivate skills through perseverance. We must have faith that we, as a nation, can adopt a growth mindset which will help us accept our difficulties in tackling the pandemic, and view challenges as opportunities to develop our resilience.
“September 14th, 2020,
I will continue to develop a growth mindset to understand that my family and I will overcome any obstacles this pandemic puts in our path. After all, tomorrow is another day!”