Emotional Resilience in the face of COVID-19

I have trained volunteers, staff and trainers in Emotional Support for British Red Cross.  Who support people in a crisis, practically but also emotionally. 

I have also been a personal development CIPD qualified trainer, for over 16 years, for the most vulnerable groups of people, such as ex offenders, domestic violence, people with disability, people with cancer and illness to name a few.  I am a life coach who has supported and empowered women through the most difficult times and many in crises situations. I have also been an associate coach and training others to become coaches. At the moment I work on a duty desk taking calls from people who need support, help, advice in many crises situations.  

I have had cancer and recovered.  I run Cancer Wellness support group, supporting people who have been affected by cancer, whether the person or relative. 

In every change, big or small, there is a curve that people go through.  As Covid-19 affects us on nearly every level of our daily lives, whether its jobs, schools, finances, daily lives, hospital appointments, treatment or just the way we shop or walk the dog, it will throw us into some form of turmoil.

The concern is that the people that have cancer, which is completely life changing on every level, a huge change like this can be detrimental to the mental health of that person, on many levels.  How they cope with this depends on their own resilience. As a society we do not talk about resilience.  However this will make the difference to someone surviving well or struggling.  

Many people that are resilient will go through the planning of practicalities (they will become busy, some overwhelmed, some will cope). The issue is that people with cancer have had their capacity to cope overwhelmed already.  There emotional tank is already full, which put us into a state of flux and being overwhelmed, how they cope will depend on where they are in their journey and how high their emotional resilience is. 

After the first week of the change, people will settle into a routine of the new change, as people are resilient.  However, I see that there are 3 groups of people, with or without cancer. 

 

Group 1

These people will be ok, they are resilient even through difficult situations, there emotions will have ups and downs, but they will be fine.  However even though they are resilient there still needs to be some support, they will need some sort of connection with others, to either keep themselves resilient or support other members of the family or their community.

 

Group 2

There is a group of people that will need more support that have caring roles, children, mental health, disabilities, illness such as cancer or other illness.

They will firstly be concerned over food as the panic of the change starts to dawn. Then the fear of what if I get the virus, and the reality hits home, especially when looking after others or themselves, then “what if I get it”

For this group the effects are deeper, as their capacity to cope has been overwhelmed, especially after the government has stepped in and changed the way life looks ie: schools shut, shops shut, normal daily life isn’t the same. As well as some not being able to work in the same way, or no income to pay bills or mortgage.  In my experience people start to ‘get busy’, after a whole heap of different emotions at different times.  

Then people start to resign themselves to what is happening.

Then comes the isolation, which depending on the situation, mental health starts to be impacted.  I don’t mean breakdown (although for some this could be the case) I mean daily mental health and listening to the media, the fear growing and the boredom. 

Others will be sitting on own with own thoughts, no contact with others, which will have a direct impact on their mental health, which in longer terms can impact sleep patterns, physical health.  

Group 3

The most vulnerable people are in this group, the over 70s, with a life threatening illness, the people that have been identified by NHS and government.  There are services out there for people’s practicalities. 

Solutions

It’s about supporting the 2 groups of people that have been identified above.  Group 1 who are resilient but just need emotional support, connection with people. Also Group 2 these are the people who are still resilient but have reasons why they may need more support, due to their situation. 

All of this change causes an emotional reaction. However, people are resilient, it just depends on their capacity to cope has been overwhelmed already.

Resilience workshops

and discussion groups 

One-to-One conversations

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