As COVID19 repositions life as we knew it, we’re reminded that resilience – the ability to recover from failure, setbacks or challenges – is not always an individual process. In times of crisis, people practice community resilience by supporting each other, shoring up those who need more support. While rare among animal groups, community resilience is always a characteristic of human communities – urban or rural, large or small, pre-historic or modern. The human need for connection increases when we face danger, disaster or uncertainty. There are so many examples of community resilience in our current situation. Here are just a few:
So – we need each other to get through this strange, unsettling time. But, what about you? When you turn your lens inward, how resilient are you? Resilience is something that we are born with. Because of resilience, we learn to crawl, then walk, then run until we can finally skip and dance. Sometimes, however, our resilience muscle needs to bulk up. Here are a few tips for building individual resilience in times of stress.
1. Be Self- Compassionate
Resilience allows you to bounce back from a challenge. The first step is to recognize that what you’re experiencing is challenging. Give yourself permission to say, “This is hard.” “This is scary.” “I’m really worried.” Next, remind yourself that it’s ok to feel the way you feel. Now take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a moment in time and for this moment, you will allow yourself to feel.
2. Be Flexible
When life doesn’t go as planned, flexibility allows us to form a “Plan B”. As you go about your new normal, you’ll probably experience moments of deep frustration. These are the times that flexibility is most important. Allow yourself to relax previously held standards that don’t make sense in the present. Apply your creativity to solve problems that crop up. Adapt your responses to others with an awareness of their own level of stress. Flexibility will help you navigate whatever lies ahead.
3. Reframe Frustrations
Resilience has a lot to do with your mindset. People who are able to detect good, even in difficult situations, tend to be more resilient. For example, when kids are together all day long, there are bound to be disagreements and tears. The silver lining is that there is now time and opportunity to teach kids how to solve problems. You’ll not only have time to teach this, but kids will have time to practice these skills. So, when you bump up against a frustration, reframe it so that you can see the positive aspects of the situation.
There are three types of human energy – emotional, mental, and physical energy. And physical energy is the most important. When physically drained, we’re more emotionally reactive, our thinking is clouded and our judgement is impaired. Exercise builds physical energy. Take time in your day to exercise even if you’re not used to exercising. A simple walk around your neighborhood or a park will shore up your physical energy, allowing you to apply emotional and mental energy to the stressors that you’ll encounter during the day.
Brain cells are cleansed and recharged during sleep. Sleep deprivation will slow down cognitive function and increases emotional reactivity. Binge-watching Netflix into the wee hours may be a good way to escape reality for a while. However, lack of sleep will reduce your ability to be resilient at a time when resilience is essential. So, set a schedule that includes time for relaxing before sleep. High quality sleep will sustain the energy you’ll need to be resilient every day.