When you are faced with tough life situations, like a health concern, grief and loss, relationship issues, and work or school problems, do you usually bounce back fairly quickly, or do you dwell on things longer than other people?
That ability to bounce back is called resilience. If you have good resilience, you are able to deal with disappointments and hardships with more ease than someone whose resilience isn’t as developed.
Being resilient doesn’t mean that you go about your life unfazed, no matter how hard it gets – just that you are able to get back up and continue with your life.
The amount of resilience we have isn’t set. We all can learn how to be more resilient, no matter our age, background, or current situation.
How can you maintain or improve your resiliency during a pandemic when you might be facing so many difficulties at the same time?
Dr. Michael Ungar gives these 12 tips:
As the pandemic continues and many of us are sheltering in place, there is a tremendous strain placed on both us as individuals and our relationships with family, roommates, and even colleagues and neighbours. These tensions can have long-lasting effects on our mental health.
The good news is that resilience is possible, but it requires more than just a positive mindset.
Maintain structure in our lives, which means getting up in the morning at a regular time and keeping as many routines as possible.
Be accountable to others, whether that is by focusing on our role as a parent or helping to look after someone else’s pet if they can’t leave their home. The more accountable we feel, the easier it is to maintain our mental health.
Invest energy in our most intimate relationships. We will need these more than ever. Take time each day to show others they matter, whether that person is a spouse, child, close friend or roommate.
Reach out and continue to nurture social connections, whether online, or by checking in on friends and family (without getting too physically close). The more we contribute to maintaining and building connections with others, the more we will fight back against depression and anxiety.
Take this opportunity to strengthen different parts of our identity, whether that is taking up a new hobby or simply showing others a different side of our personality. By broadening who we are, we are proving that even without a job or schooling, we still have value.
Take control of whatever we can control. Whether that is limiting our television watching or exercising regularly, the experience of control gives us the strength to cope and to resist feelings of helplessness.
Nurture a sense of belonging and maintain a spiritual path. Look for opportunities to express our life purpose. If you are spiritual, or affiliated with a faith community, do whatever you can to continue your spiritual practices, especially if those practices remind you that you are not alone. This is also a time to celebrate our culture. Connecting with our past will help us predict a better future despite these uncertain times.
Exercise our rights. Whether that means asking for help from our government or ensuring we are treated fairly by our employer or landlord, we are more resilient when we insist on fair treatment and take responsibility for ourselves and others.
Look after our basic needs. Put our house in order. Rearrange the furniture. Clean out closets. Review our bank statements. Do our taxes. The more parts of our life we put in order, and the more our basic needs are taken care of, the more secure we will feel.
Take care of our physical health. Stay as active as we can. This will lift our mood and prevent health problems that are unrelated to the pandemic.
When possible, stabilize our finances. Make a plan for how we will get through this time of economic uncertainty. Reach out for help from our family, our bank, government or local not-for-profit if we are financially in crisis.
Think positive thoughts. Avoid catastrophic thinking by reading and watching things that lift our spirits. Talk to others about how we feel. Do whatever it takes to stay hopeful. Be grateful for anything that is going well, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
If you’re interested in building your resiliency, you can find more resources online or connect with your EAP program to speak with a counsellor or life coach.