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.
In the past 6 months many people have experienced all of these “significant sources of stress.” Our family relationships and friendships have changed. Many people have serious health problems – some new and some that were existing. Hasn’t our workplace changed? Many of us are required to work differently now more than we ever have. That’s assuming, of course, that we can continue to work so our financial stress is higher than normal as well!
What do we do? Life may not come with a “how to” manual or a road map but we all experience everyday challenges that may leave us with a lasting negative impact. However people, generally speaking, adapt well over time to life-changing events and stressful situations. We call that resilience.
Being resilient does NOT mean that we will not experience difficulty, trauma or stress. It is not something that only SOME people have. Resilience is something that involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that anyone can learn and develop. It takes time and intentionality. There are 4 core components – connection, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning. Think of those 4 things in your life and you can learn to build a healthy resilience to your stress and trauma.
People are by nature social creatures. We need other people in our lives. It is important to find a way to continue to interact with those about whom we care. Whether we do this through email and video calls or we have the ability to actually interact in person, it is important to connect with others. Also - never underestimate the power of your pets. Interacting with our pets can be a good connection as well.
Self-care is a word that seems to be popular at this time. Don't underestimate the need to care for our physical bodies. We all need to make sure that we stay healthy - exercise and eating healthy foods are just one way to do this. We can also practice mindfulness and avoid negative situations.
Meditation and prayer are ways that help us to focus on what is important in our lives. Change is inevitable. When we resist change our thoughts become tangled in an unhealthy and overwhelming way. By accepting change and learning to manage our own emotions, we become more resilient.
Everyone looks for a purpose in life. Perhaps this is a good time to join a new group. It can be something like a book club or an online study. You can join a group that exercises at home or a jogging or walking group. It is also important to see if there is a group that you can connect to that allows you to give back. Do something positive to help others and it can give positive meaning to your own life.
We can all develop healthy habits and thoughts. All of these will help us build resilience. It is OK to feel overwhelmed and to be frustrated. It is what we do to manage these feelings that helps each of us feel stronger and therefore more resilient in the face of tragedy, trauma and stress. Take charge of your feelings today.