So, what do I mean by resilience?
Being resilient simply means adapting well, staying balanced and steady, in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or significant sources of stress…. Like now.
The great thing is anyone can develop the behaviors, thoughts and actions that constitute resilience. Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. One memorable example is the response of many Americans to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and individuals’ efforts as they rebuilt their lives after that horrendous tragedy.
Like building muscle,
increasing your resilience takes time and intentionality.
There are four core components to developing resilience: connection, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning.
Build your connections
Prioritize relationships. Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind you that you’re not alone in the midst of difficulties. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who validate your thoughts, your feelings, your being: this supports resilience.
While we need to foster positive and skillful communication with our sweetheart, they cannot meet all of our needs (as we cannot meet all of theirs). We need to have others in our support circle to turn to for additional empathy and understanding.
Be creative! Unfortunately, in our current reality of social distancing, our access to many of our old support systems has evaporated such as social activities or participating in faith-based communities. Facetime, Zoom, Skype: these are all ways we can connect with people we love. Use them.
Take care of your body, your mind and your spirit. Always, but especially now.
Stress is as much physical as it is emotional. Good nutrition, ample sleep, hydration and regular exercise fortifies the body to adapt to stress, thus reducing the toll of emotions like anxiety or depression (which is so easy to fall into right now.)
Search out free classes online for mindfulness, yoga, pilates. Spiritual practices like prayer or meditation can also help people build connections and restore hope. 10 minutes a day is a perfect start and indeed makes a difference.
And yes, we’re home all the time. That 2nd or 3rd glass of wine or beer is oh-SO tempting! As we all know: keep alcohol consumption in moderation. Excessive alcohol increases the stress load on our bodies and our emotions, and may also contribute to relational stress.
Rediscover (reinvent) your purpose
It can be simply be being a nonjudgmental listening ear for those close to you. Or it might be offering some skill you have (accounting, mechanics, cooking, knitting, childcare) to someone in need. Helping others in need can bolster a sense of purpose, which in turn empowers our growth in resilience.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often find that personal growth comes as a result of a challenging time. For example, after a tragedy or hardship, people have reported better relationships and a greater sense of strength, even while feeling vulnerable. That can increase a sense of self-worth and heighten one’s appreciation for life.
Embrace healthy thoughts
For me, this is a lifelong practice, that indeed, has grown over time. How we think plays a significant role in how we feel and how we view the world around us.
It means, striving to keep things in perspective. Avoid catastrophizing the situation. Accept that change is a part of life, that conflict is inevitable.
Focus on where you do have agency, rather than ruminating on things you cannot change (such as the fact we have a pandemic, or how much differently your spouse views the situation, or how your teenage daughter is venting on everyone around her.) What can you shift or change in the given situation to make your life, or the lives of those around you, easier?
And finally, practice gratitude and appreciation – daily. I discuss creating a Gratitude Journal in this blog, Deepening Gratitude.
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
as they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~ Marcel Proust
Getting help when you need it is crucial in building your resilience. There are times for each and every one of us when we need help keeping our bodies, our minds, our emotions and our spirits balanced and strong.
Seek out help if you need it.
I wish you good health, a sweet connection with your beloved and a hefty dose of sanity,