When you’re challenged by a personal crisis – whether at work, home, or in your social circle – it’s normal to feel anxious, drained, and distressed. In these instances, the wellness professionals here at Southeastern Med are trained to help patients work on building their individual resilience; developing coping mechanisms and techniques for improving their daily mindset. As it turns out, many of these same principles can be effectively applied during a more unusual, collective crisis, as well, such as the one brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While an ongoing crisis of this nature leads to an understandable rise in anxiety across many facets of our lives, there are still things we can do every day to build our resilience and take on our challenges with greater energy and optimism.
Resilience looks different for everyone, but it usually can be explained as:
- Whether or not we bounce back or break when we’re faced with a challenge
- How we cope with the resources we have
The Importance of Resilience
Resilience is critical not just for helping ourselves to “feel better” in difficult times; it also helps us to move forward rather than being held back, and provides a greater tolerance and readiness for future challenges. No one wants to suffer with severe anxiety or burnout. Resilience helps us navigate the circumstances that lead to those feelings.
Self care is the foundation of resilience, and it starts with eating nutritious meals, sleeping well, exercising, feeding our minds with positive thoughts, and taking time for ourselves.
In order to thrive, we as humans need to do things that are productive and benefit us. Consider taking a short walk, engaging in a hobby, or meditating when taking time for yourself. And be careful of your time spent watching the news or using your smartphone. While scrolling social media might seem like a relaxing way to pass the time, it often leaves us feeling more anxious than we did before.
Another part of building resilience is allowing yourself the space to feel emotions. Don’t bottle them up. Instead, write how you are feeling down on paper or talk to someone. Grief is a common feeling during a crisis and as you move into your new normal, especially if you have suffered personal losses. Give yourself the time and space to process your feelings.
You can start building resilience by reflecting on your past few days. Keep a journal and record what you are feeling and when. This will help expose any patterns in your behavior. Be sure to note what you were doing at those times. Being aware of what makes you feel a certain way and why it makes you feel that way, as well as how you respond, will help you determine what to do about it.
Building Resilience Isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Everyone has different needs and resources available to them. Some are further down the journey of reflection and more self-aware. Others may need more time.
Your environment plays a huge role in resilience, too. Those with more resources may find it easier to build resilience. Those with limited resources will have more strain and stress, and resilience may be more difficult to build. For example, someone who has retained their job during COVID may have an easier time building resilience than someone who has recently lost their job. Similarly, a person still living in quarantine for health reasons may face greater challenges than someone who has begun regularly going to work, shops, and restaurants again.
Making It a Habit
In order to make resilience a habit, you must commit to yourself and make time for it every day. Even 10 to 20 minutes can be beneficial. Think about times during the day when you often feel more anxious, sluggish or tired–times when you might turn to snacking or social media scrolling. By replacing these moments with resilience techniques, such as taking a healthy walk or meditating, you can begin to change your patterns and recalibrate your mindset.
When You Know Your Work is Paying Off
You’ll know when you are successful in building resilience when your emotions feel more manageable. You’ll have the coping mechanisms to deal with them and will bounce back quicker than you did before your resilience journey. You’ll also be able to find new and creative solutions to solving your problems. In general, you’ll have a more positive outlook.
Being kind to yourself at this time is of utmost importance. As you process difficult emotions, you need to have compassion for yourself and recognize that you might not be as productive as usual. Refrain from judging yourself for this, and instead support yourself with self-care.
Recognize Signs of Distress in Yourself and Others, and Call for Help if You Need It
Stress, worry, and fear burden your health. These emotions can lead to sleep or eating challenges (too little or too much), difficulty concentrating, feelings of isolation, fighting or tension in relationships, unexplained aches and pains, thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, or drinking or smoking more than you should.
If you or someone you know is in distress, get help. Your employer may have resources, such as an Employee Assistance program, or you can contact us at Southeastern Med to discuss your options.