As Covid-19 has spread through the world, we have seen and experienced the parallel spread of anxiety, stress, depression and addiction as well.

As humans, we’re hardwired to crave stability, safety and certainty, so it’s perfectly natural to feel unsettled and anxious about current events. However there are ways to stay empowered in periods of uncertainty, reduce stress and build resilience so you can cope better through it all. 

How to F.A.C.E your challenges

The ‘FACE’ method is a set of four practical steps that you can use to respond effectively to any challenge or crisis is your life. Here’s a quick summary of the key steps, and then we’ll go into each one in more depth.

F = Focus on what’s in your control
A = Accept what you cannot control
C = Come back to the present moment
E = Engage in action guided by your values

F= Focus on what you can control

In times of challenge or crisis a certain amount of fear and stress are inevitable; they are natural responses to the more difficult moments of our lives. However we often cause ourselves a lot of excess suffering by continuously worrying and ruminating about all kinds of things that are not in our control.

While that might be a fairly normal thing for the mind to do, it simply is not helpful.

For example you cannot control what other people are doing, you cannot control how governments are responding to world events, you cannot control the future of the world or how the coronavirus pandemic will evolve, etc.

In fact, the more you focus on things you cannot control, the more overwhelmed, disempowered and frantic you are likely to feel.

So the most powerful thing you can do when you’re facing any great challenge is to focus on what you can control and accept that for now, the rest of it simply is as it is. What we can control is our behaviour so think about what you can do to make a positive difference

A = Accept what you cannot control

As we focus on what we can control, we let go of what we cannot. So instead of wishing things were different or fighting the way things are, here we wage peace with life as it is. This is not resignation but the simple acknowledgement that “right now it’s like this”.

It’s important to note here that in difficult times, part of what we often need to accept is also any difficult feelings that may arise. We don’t want to pretend we’re not feeling them, we don’t want to try to struggle with them or escape them.

Acknowledge your feelings and give yourself compassion for what you’re going through. Struggling with difficult emotions only prolongs them and makes them bigger. So let go of the inner struggle and surround them with your compassionate awareness.

C = Come back to the present moment

So remember to bring your focus back to the present moment. If you’re feeling caught up in worry, rumination, stress or overwhelm, continuously bring your focus back to the present moment to find more balance, calm and steadiness of mind.

An easy way to do this is to take a few deep slow breaths and feel the breath in the body as you do this.

E = Engage in actions guided by your values

One of the most empowering things you can ever do in difficult times is take wise action – action guided by your own core values. Your values might be things like kindness, courage, patience, love, compassion, determination, playfulness. Whatever your unique values are, connect with them and let them guide your actions.

Perhaps considering “What is one small positive step I can take right now? How can I look after myself and others? What needs to change to make things easier or better?”

Research shows that focusing on what you can control and taking action shifts you from a state of helplessness to one of hopefulness and empowerment. In a time where you might have otherwise felt paralyzed or depressed, taking action restores your calm, clarity of mind and inner strength.

Learn the Art of Mindful Living with Melli O'Brien: