Coping, confidence, and coronavirus



Focus on your self-efficacy to get through these trying times

Focus on your self-efficacy to get through these trying times


It's a term used equally for children with special needs and for adults grappling with life challenges. Self-efficacy is defined as “our confidence to perform well in a particular part of our life,” according to Melissa Hladek, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing who studies stress and resilience.

Whether you're working at home while your children learn online or dealing with the loss of a job or simply confronting the tension of shopping in a store full of masked people, you have the ability to cope with the difficulties the pandemic throws at you. Hladek suggests the following ways to increase your sense of self-efficacy during this period of upheaval.

Personal Mastery. Recall past experiences that required you to grapple with difficult situations. Although you probably have not lived through a pandemic before, you can apply lessons from other experiences to this situation. Remember that you have mastery and mobilize it for the present. 

Positive Modeling. We can learn from other people as we observe them dealing with the pandemic in their own ways. Go to your network of friends and acquaintances and ask for advice, particularly from those who are dealing with similar problems. They may have stories to relate, or they can point you to resources. 

Coaching. Although the whole world seems to have changed, the pandemic involves specific challenges that people have dealt with before: social isolation, financial difficulties, health anxieties. Break your situation down into its component parts and seek out people who specialize in those issues. Don't forget that your past experiences have given you expertise in some of these areas, and you can help others. The more we come together and support each other, the more confident we will feel.

Listening to your body. Pleasurable or painful sensations in your body often come from emotions that you can access by paying attention to the physical feelings. Pause to focus on the sensations and ask your body what it's trying to tell you. Sometimes making the connection between physical and emotional pain will help you release the sensations and move on. Tools for making these connections include meditation or prayer, sleep, tears, journaling, talking, and exercise. If pain persists, don't be afraid to seek professional help. 

We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, so self-efficacy will look different for each person. By sharing our personal mastery, we can support each other and get through these difficult times.



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