Humankind is experiencing a collective trauma: a world-wide pandemic. How do we persevere in the face of a pandemic and continue to work towards personal growth? Resilience. Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of life’s stressors and to even gain personal strength despite the trauma or stressor. Resilience is a skill that you can continue to develop with practice. Below are several tools we can utilize to build resilience in our own lives.
RVM, a philanthropist and poet, wrote: “Learn to accept and bend like the willow. For if you resist, you will break like the oak.” When we approach life with a rigid view of how things must be, with no flexibility, we are more likely to break down from the stress. Increase flexibility in your life by allowing yourself multiple options when unforeseeable barriers disrupt your original plan. Be aware of thoughts that catastrophize or label things as “black or white.” Also, be aware of thoughts that hinder your ability to make space for alternatives.
Isolation is a natural response when we feel overwhelmed. Learning to connect in ways that work for us strengthens resiliency. Talk to family or friends. Schedule a virtual video call. Plan socially safe activities with those you care about. Connection can also come in the form of asking for help. Keep in mind that asking for help might include help from professionals (e.g., mental health therapists, psychiatrists, etc.).
Notice when your mind is replaying past or future fears, hurts, and stressors. Practice connecting to yourself and the moment. Feel the breeze on your skin when you are out for your walk. Listen to the sound of your kids playing. Observe how your hot coffee feels in your hands or as you swallow. The present is where we can heal and grow.
Our resilience will increase as we use these skills. Want more information? Visit the American Psychological Association for additional ideas on how to build resiliency.