Focus on our strengths and creativity to recreate the industry and ourselves
The global health emergency situation that we are experiencing has put us in front of the need to adapt to a new normal that completely redesigned the rules of human interactions. In these hectic times, is not always easy to find an inner balance to get through social distancing within our personal and professional spheres.
With the aim of bringing a positive message and helpful advices in terms of mental and emotional health, we have interviewed the experienced Dr. Ana Gouvea.
Doctor Gouvea is a Psychotherapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with a Ph.D. in Linguistics, with certifications in trauma, mindfulness for treating stress and anxiety, and TeleMental Health. She writes monthly articles in Portuguese on mental health issues to Acontece Magazine. She also has a Podcast Be Healthy! Be Mindful!
What would be your advice in terms of emotional attitude for all women in the audio-visual industry, whose activities are mainly based on contact and networking, in these times of social distancing? How to cope with the feeling of being overwhelmed by uncertainties?
Covid- 19 exacerbated feelings of vulnerability because of the uncertainties it created. It triggered negative emotions such as fear, sadness, and sometimes despair. People complain that they feel anxious and/or depressed. All these negative emotions are triggered by negative thoughts about the future, job, industry, family’s health, etc. If we “feed” these negative thoughts and catastrophize the future, we will be overwhelmed by negative emotions. Nevertheless, if we stop for a moment and give a reality check to these thoughts, we will find out that we have the resilience to deal with adversities. Being aware of the negative thoughts is the first step to find solutions to our problems.
Paradoxically, the vulnerability that Covid-19 generated is a great opportunity to accept that we do not have control of the future and that it is never certain that we will achieve our goals in the way we planned. When we try to control the future, we are trying to control the uncontrollable. Also, our personal and professional journeys do not follow a straight line. We might encounter “curves” and “flat tires” in these journeys. Thus, in some sense Covid-19 created the opportunity to acknowledge and accept our vulnerability. This acceptance is crucial to deal with uncertainties and find solutions to our problems.
WAWA has been able to proactively connect and create a network of women around the world. In your opinion, what represents and what can offer being part of a community, such as WAWA Association, especially during these challenging times?
Being part of a community is very important to help us deal with our problems. Mental health professionals call this a support system. Research shows that when a person has a support system it has a positive impact in recovery. Thus, to have a network of professionals going through the same problems can be a healing experience in these challenging times. It is an opportunity to share the struggles, to be compassionate, and to find solutions together.
Could you tell us which are the most important healthy behaviors to deal with situations that are unexpected? How can we be resilient?
In terms of healthy behaviors to deal with this situation it is very important to try to keep a healthy routine that includes self-care, healthy eating and exercises. Relaxation techniques are also helpful to improve anxiety symptoms and well-being in general. For example, mindfulness meditation helps bring the mind to the present moment, the only moment we have control of. By paying attention on the breath, we can anchor our minds in the present moment and observe our thoughts without judging them or ourselves.
But the most important healthy behavior in my opinion is to accept the adversities in our lives and our own vulnerability. When we accept, we have the energy to deal with the adversities. When we fight with the adversities, we get stuck in a storm of negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Acceptance is not easy, but it allows resilience to blossom. The Buddhist monk ThichNhatHanh in his book No Mud, No Lotus explains that “there is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.” The mud is our problems, life adversities, our suffering. The lotus is the beautiful, clean and pristine flower that grows out of the mud and symbolizes our “rebirth”, our resilience.
When we accept the present moment with self-compassion, self-care, and self-worth we find out that we have the inner strength to deal with our problems. We realize we are resilient. Women in the audio-visual industry are in general creative, innovative, and strong. Thus, it is more about using these strengths and creativity to recreate the industry and yourselves. If you focus on your strengths, you can find a silver lining in the adversities you are experiencing right now. You can grow a lotus flower out of the mud.
By: Dr. Ana Gouvea
Psychotherapist, LMHC, Ph.D. in Linguistics