The Same But Different

    by Danielle Kuznetsov, AWO Moscow and Christine Riney, AWC Hamburg

    The current situation, COVID-19, has changed the world. For everyone. We are all experiencing it differently depending upon our location in the world, our lifestyle, who we live with, who we are and how we cope. It is the same but different. 

    Each country adjusts daily to newly reported cases as those in government and leadership juggle the collective health and economy of those they lead. There is a new normal; a new reality. It is the same but different.

    For women like us, who have experienced enormous change and uncertainty when we moved or continue to move to different countries, the ability to cope in times of crisis is likely better than those who have not experienced a significant change in their lives. Dealing with another culture, language and social system all come with their own challenges that need to be overcome. Our experience has given us a certain resilience to weather the unexpected, the new “normal” on a regular basis.

    Keeping that in mind, feeling anxious, worried or unsettled is quite normal under the circumstances. It is a natural human response to the unknown, and we have the unknown in spades!

    “Anxiety is mother nature's way of trying to protect us by pushing us to resolve uncertainty and figure out a solution,”

    (Julie Pike, clinical psychologist)

    How can we move into a more positive mindset and enhance our overall well-being? There are many options and suggestions. Here are a few things to think about that might help wherever you are and however you are feeling today. Every day is the same but different.

    Human minds are good at predicting the worst.

    We often overestimate our emotional response to events. We believe that our response will be more intense than it is and we believe it will last longer than it does. 

    We also underestimate how quickly we adjust to negative events and how well we will cope. We think it will take a longer time than it does to adjust and that we will cope worse than we do. Basically, we are more resilient then we think we are. We will get through this.

    Be Mindful

    1. Focus on today. The past is gone and the future doesn’t exist. Be in the present.
    2. Focus on your opportunities. Accept that we all have a new normal that is calling each one of us to use the tools and resources we already have.
    3. Focus on your response to what is happening. You have complete control over your response. This will help you build psychological resilience. Our mind has enormous power to accept things we can not change.
    4. Focus on enhancing your relationships. Strengthen the weak areas that can be worked on. Notice small changes you can make in yourself to better respond to those in your life. Reaching out to others will help you both feel better.
    5. Focus on drawing others out by listening. Find solutions, point to opportunities, and call out a person’s strengths so they can use them during this time. 
    6. Focus on who you can be, not who you thought you were. Showing up means choosing who you will be today and doing your best to be that person.
    7. Focusing on what you have and are grateful for will help to improve your feelings of well-being and reduce your anxiety and stress. It pushes us to stop focusing on the uncertainty and the negative by widening our perspectives to include the good things in our daily lives. Even if they are small things. 
    8. Focus on your well-being so that you are able to care for others. Eat properly. Exercise. Sleep. 

    Keep connecting

    We, women of FAWCO, are used to communicating via technology – Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Google Meet, Facebook. Connecting with family and friends from a distance is normal when you are living in a different country and time zone. We might be physically distant, but we are still connecting with those that matter. You also matter when you have had enough; it is ok to stop. Read a book, write a journal, take a breath for you. Don’t feel pressured to show up to every virtual invitation, event or course. It is the same as when you are in the “real” world. You can’t and don’t need to do everything.

    Perhaps the most important thing we must keep in mind is “and this, too, shall pass.” We will be stronger and even more resilient. Perhaps we should all ask ourselves how this new experience will change how we perceive our world. And how we want to live in it.

    Last but not least, wash your hands and don’t touch your face!

    There are links to three videos at the bottom of this article. They are each about a day in a life under lockdown due to COVID-19. They are very different – personalities, cities, situations – but they are also the same. Women of FAWCO. 

    The New Normal Home Alone

    Home with Two Kids

    Not Home Alone


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