Resilience is described as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Being able to bounce back from a setback is an essential tool to survive our everyday lives that are filled with challenges, which at times can leave us feeling helpless.
It is for this reason that being resilient and building resilience should be a top priority for everyone during these uncertain times. The Pandemic has caused economic and social disruption which has lasting effects, the worst being the loss of human life in our country and the rest of the world. The news of a second wave, as we were starting to recover from the first wave, has been a huge blow, and readjusting has been a difficult task. This has increased and accelerated the need for resilience, more especially as many are experiencing fatigue of all things COVID related, while others are battling feelings of despair and helplessness.
We are however, in a way, individually tasked to ensure that we are able to see beyond these times, and see a definite light at the end of the tunnel, for the sake of ourselves and the country as a whole. In order to do this, building resilience is an essential part of this process.
Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Some people equate resilience with mental toughness, but demonstrating resilience includes working through emotional pain and suffering. Katie Hurley, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, provides methods to assist in this regard.
Building and cultivating resilience:
- Develop self-awareness. Understanding how you typically respond to stress and adversity is the first step toward learning more adaptive strategies. Self-awareness also includes understanding your strengths and knowing your weaknesses. The pandemic has had such a negative impact on our lives; there are changes that are unfamiliar to us in our homes, our communities and in our places of work. It has forced us to really evaluate ourselves in order to understand ourselves.
- Build self-regulation skills. Remaining focused in the face of stress and adversity is important but not easy. Stress-reduction techniques, such as guided imagery/ visualisation (i.e. a relaxation technique that involves visualizing positive, peaceful settings like a beautiful beach or a peaceful meadow), breathing exercises, and mindfulness training, can help individuals regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviour. Regulating behaviour in light of a second COVID-19 wave, has proven to be difficult. The virus depends on our behaviour; how fast we adjust to changes in regulations, (the wearing of masks, remote working where possible, and constantly being aware of what we touch).
- Learn coping skills. There are many coping skills that can help in dealing with stressful and challenging situations. They include journaling, reframing thoughts, exercising, spending time outdoors, improving sleep, tapping into creative outlets and socializing. Although we need to be mindful when socializing and observe regulations and legislation.
- Increase optimism. People who are more optimistic tend to feel more in control of their outcomes. To build optimism, focus on what you can do when faced with a challenge, and identify positive, problem-solving steps that you can take.
- Strengthen connections. Support systems can play a vital role in resilience. Bolster your existing social connections and find opportunities to build new ones.
- Know your strengths. People feel more capable and confident when they can identify and draw on their talents and strengths.
- Gratitude. Being grateful for what we have; our lives, health and now a possible vaccine, will assist in making it through tough times.
Being in the midst of a storm makes it difficult to see or imagine a life outside of it. It therefore makes it easy to fall into habits of self-doubt, hopelessness and negative thoughts. Unfortunately, these do not improve any situation. It is important to be aware of the fact that this is not a once-off or an overnight exercise, but one that takes time and requires frequent implementation in order to ensure success. The ability to get up, and continuously try is what makes the difference.
This article contains information from Everyday Health, What Is Resilience? Your Guide to Facing Life’s Challenges, Adversities, and Crises by Katie Hurley LCSW