feeling down, building resilience
When Feeling Down Is About Grieving


Maggie Sim

Maggie Sim

Last week, I met a friend whom I had not seen for several months for dinner and drinks. It felt so good to be able to meet up with friends outside the home. 2020 has been a very hard year, one that caught many of us by surprise and also one that drove home the point of taking anything for granted.

We spent quite some time talking about how she coped with sadness during the lock-down. She had experienced feelings of sadness, hopelessness and grappled with the “Am I depressed?” question for a while.

Many people felt the same way during the lock-down. We thought it was just a virus that happened in another country, far away from us. Then we started hearing of infections locally. We began to worry about catching the virus. Then we experienced feelings of incredulity when borders started to close. For a long while, we lost the freedom to socialise with friends and family. There was also the nagging worry about the economic implications on our lives. We could no longer touch and connect with people in the way we used to while wearing our face masks and practising safe distancing measures.

Back to my friend. I know she did not become depressed as she managed to pick herself up. I was very curious to know her strategies for building resilience and getting herself out of the rut. She shared with me her 3 tips below.

Feeling Down Tip #1: Awareness

Recognise that you are grieving and make a conscious choice to put a time limit on the grieving process

feeling down, building resilience

My friend realised that her feelings of sadness were actually grief. She was grieving for the life that was no longer available to her due to Covid. She enjoyed having a big social life and that was curtailed. She loved travelling with her family as that’s how they bond and reconnect with each other. Well, that was no longer possible with travel restrictions. She needed her personal space and working from home arrangements took this away from her.

After much self-reflection, it finally dawned on her that her sadness was grief. She was grieving over the loss of her old life. With that realisation, she made a conscious choice to place a “time limit” on the grieving process. It wasn’t easy – getting out of the rut does not mean that she stopped feeling down and sad. As she continued to feel sadness, she did not focus her attention on the sad feelings. Instead, she focused on what could make her feel better.

If you have been experiencing sadness for a while, could you be grieving over the loss of something?

Feeling Down Tip #2: Clarity

Associate yourself with good feelings by doing things that make you smile

To stop focusing on sadness, my friend immersed herself in doing things that made her smile. She did not pretend that the sad feelings had gone away because this is not how life works. Instead, she allowed those sad feelings to come and go, and did not dwell on them. It’s the ruminating that leads to ruination.

feeling down, building resilience

She went about indulging in activities that made her smile, laugh and feel warm fuzzy feelings. Like watching romantic-comedies, listening to upbeat music and reading light-hearted novels. Gradually, she found herself feeling much better. It sounds easy but it takes a lot of mental discipline to ‘box and shelf’ those sad feelings.

I loved it when she talked about associating herself with good feelings because that’s a tip that I shared in my building resilience blog-post.

How do you associate yourself with good feelings when you are feeling down?

Feeling Down Tip #3: Acceptance

Know that the old life is gone and move on to make a ‘new’ one

Feeling down, building resilience

“I have to accept that life as how I know it to be, is gone. I have to adjust to the new normal.” is what my friend said. “Maybe when a vaccine is available, life might go back to what it used to be. However, I know that things have changed and I want to move on too. I don’t want to linger on in the past.”

Not having to wear a face mask. Being able to travel freely. Enjoying entertainment spaces without the safe distancing rules in place. Will we see those days again? Yes, we will.

Instead of hankering after certainty in a very uncertain world right now, be grateful for our blessings. If we want to build resilience and thrive, we have to keep asking ourselves future-oriented questions.

What are you doing differently, both emotionally and mentally, to adjust to this new normal?

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As you may be curious to know how coaching can help you build resilience or overcome feelings of sadness, please contact me here or email me at maggiesim@holdingspace.sg.

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