As we travel through a global pandemic, and the impact of what that means to us as individuals and communities, we’re being asked to be resilient. But what is resilience, and what will/does it do for us…
It isn’t about:
Resilience isn’t about never being stressed or encountering challenges, quite the opposite, often those with the most resilience have experienced a considerable of emotional distress. It isn’t something we are born with, although some personal traits might make some individuals more resilient than others. Rather resilience can be learnt and developed over a lifetime. It involves thoughts, behaviours and actions.
Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. .. (Merriam-Webster).
Factors such as optimism, positive attitude and emotional self-regulation appear to make individuals more resilient. The ability to analyze what might have gone wrong and learn from mistakes. In other words developing resilience is like building any habit, it takes time, focus, setting the intention and follow through.
Focus on four components:
The American Association of Psychological Association (AMA) suggests focusing in ‘four core components – connection, wellness (self-care), healthy thinking and meaning’.
Often when we go through a painful event we feel alone, unhappy and sometime even shame, we tend to isolate which in turn compounds our sense of aloneness. The support of family and friends, those that care about us is important for our well being and growth. Our resilience muscle grows with support from those who can empathize, understand, and show us compassion. Being active and showing the same compassion and understanding to others in our support group can also bolster our own wellbeing.
I believe that sometimes we have to be selfish to be selfless. Being alert to our own well-being is important in building resilience. Stress takes a toil on our physical and mental health, and developing or sustaining good nutritional habits, physical activity – such as walking, good sleep habits (having a clean bedroom empty of electronic devices), and proper hydration can help reduce anxiety and/or depression. Focusing on these areas too, help detract from the self-destructive habit of going down the rabbit hole of what ifs and self-blame.
Developing new habits such as mindfulness, meditation, journaling or other restorative practices can also help settle the monkey mind while growing the resilience muscle. Drugs and alcohol may allow us a quick fix of ‘feeling better’, but in the long run they mask our stress and elongate its affect.
Sometimes I despair over ‘made-over’ words, such as purpose or finding your why (sorry Simon Sinek), as it often sets us off in various directions, worrying intently about ‘why’ (sic) we can’t find our big purpose. Sometimes purpose is as simple as helping others in their time of need.
Don’t stress over what you can’t do, rather focus on what you can do about the challenges/situations in your life. Break them into chunks, manageable bite size pieces – unhappy in your job, feeling guilty because many no longer have a job, update your resume, look at the impact you have had in your role. If you find a new role, then maybe your current job will be filled by someone who has been laid off!
It’s difficult to be positive when going through a difficult time. How we look at obstacles can make a significant difference when building resilience. What are the things we can control? We may not be able to change an event, however we can change how we react to it. If we can turn from looking from a place of fear to visualizing what we want, we can start to feel better and more able to deal with our challenges. Also we can take time to reflect on our growth. Reminding ourselves of how we have managed before, and what we have learned from previous experiences can be helpful when faced with new difficulties.
Admit to needing help
Sometimes the help and support of others, and our own resilience is enough to get through hard times. But, other times we may need more professional help to move forward. It takes courage to own up and admit to needing help. Don’t hesitate to ask for professional help, therapists and coaches can assist us in developing strategies that we may not have thought of, and sometimes because they are strangers we find them easier to talk to, and support us as we problem solve.
So if you want support in managing the change that may surround you, don’t hesitate to contact us for a complimentary session to see whether there is a fit and where we might be able to help. Remember you only have one life to live. Live it to the fullest, love those that surround you and allow yourself to enjoy each day!