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How the COVID-19 pandemic left people feeling stuck and what can be done

When we look back on our calendars at the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic dominates many of our minds. The series of challenges and uncertainty that came out of that year left a lot of us changed forever. Among those profound effects, a predominant sentiment emerged—many people feeling they’ve lost the reins over integral parts of their lives. This all-encompassing sensation, touching areas from personal life to financial stability, begs the pressing question: How can individuals reclaim control of their lives during unprecedented events like the pandemic and future events to come?


Recent studies have illuminated the magnitude of this issue. An alarming number of people—nearly half, according to some reports—have expressed feelings of being out of control. More specifically, 47% feel they have lost control over their personal lives, 46% over their futures, and 45% over their finances. To better comprehend these staggering figures, it’s imperative to take a deeper look into the reasons behind these sentiments.


The pandemic, with its enforced lockdowns and social distancing mandates, put enormous strains on personal relationships. Isolation led many to feel disconnected from their loved ones. Activities that once offered solace, such as weekend getaways, gym sessions, or simple dinner parties, became logistically complex or outright impossible. The loss of those personal freedoms and routines has left many feeling trapped, impacting their sense of personal agency even though things have returned to “normal.”


Uncertainty about the future has always been a human concern, but the pandemic magnified it exponentially. Entire Industries collapsed, job markets fluctuated, and educational institutions shifted gears towards unfamiliar modes of teaching, many were left questioning their long-term goals and trajectories. The ambiguity surrounding vaccine rollouts, potential future outbreaks, and evolving work norms further clouded everyone’s vision of the future.


However, no matter what part of the world you were in, the news of economies worldwide taking massive hits could not be escaped. Businesses, both big and small, faced closures or significant downturns, leading to job losses, salary cuts, and diminished financial security. Even those who retained their jobs faced the lurking fear of what might come next, leading to decreased spending and increased saving for an uncertain future. For those without a financial safety net, the worries were and have been even more pronounced, with concerns about basic sustenance and survival.


As daunting as these challenges seem, it’s essential to remember that with challenges come opportunities. In this continued unprecedented era, individuals and communities worldwide have shown resilience and adaptability. As the world collectively maneuvers through the now new variants of the virus and continued spikes in cases, the emphasis should be on understanding these feelings of loss and finding ways to adapt, evolve, and ultimately regain a semblance of control.


Kim Askey Strasser, EVP of Coaching and Content at MetaBrain Self, deciphers these overwhelming emotions. “Feeling stuck is the chasm between actuality and what one anticipated. While our initial instinct might be to adjust the tangible aspects of our lives, seeking temporary relief, the genuine essence of the problem resides in our mindset.” This sentiment underscores the need for an internal paradigm shift rather than external recalibrations.


The allure of digital platforms, especially in the age of remote work and the reemergence of social distancing in some areas, offers both solace and sorrow. Social media platforms, for instance, can inadvertently amplify feelings of inadequacy by showcasing curated snapshots of ‘perfect’ lives. But is there a silver lining to the ubiquity of technology in our lives?


Interestingly, the very realm that presents challenges might also provide solutions. MetaBrain Labs, a leader in the domain of neurotechnology, taps into this potential. With Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology, they provide avenues to continually explore and retrain the unconscious mind, using tools like EEG-enabled headsets and platforms rooted in Adaptive theory and Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). While only a fragment of their mission, it holds the promise of aiding individuals in unearthing and adjusting deeply-seated mindsets, fostering rapid behavioral alterations and enriched life experiences.


“Being stuck isn’t a permanent condition but a mental state,” says Strasser. “The key to moving forward lies in understanding the unconscious thought processes which create feelings of insufficiency and dissatisfaction. By becoming aware of these, we can actively and thoughtfully determine our future course, whether it involves changing aspects of our life or reframing our perceptions.”


While technology offers one piece of the puzzle, holistic well-being encompasses a broader spectrum. Adopting healthy lifestyles—both mentally and physically—acts as a cornerstone in building resilience. Balanced diets, regular exercise, engaging in mindful practices, and fostering genuine relationships have been time-tested methods that bolster mental health. In the current scenario, they become even more pertinent.


As the world continues to navigate the aftershocks of the pandemic, understanding and addressing the feelings of being ‘stuck’ takes precedence. While external circumstances might seem overwhelmingly bleak, the power to adapt and reshape resides within. Through a combination of advanced technological tools and age-old practices of healthy living, there’s a promising path ahead for individuals to regain control, ensuring a balanced and fulfilling life amidst the chaos.