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Psychologists across the world define resilience as the development of adapting well in the face of adversity. This could be how well you adapt to trauma, everyday life situations and situations with a permanent and long-lasting impact, such as the death of a loved one.
During this year we have already undergone so much. We are facing adversity and none of us has had to fight this fight before. The fight against an unseen microbiological enemy called coronavirus. Along with it came the fear of infection or stigma, financial strain, loads of stress and anxiety. We were forced to adapt to a new way of life under lockdown but did we adapt mentally to face the road ahead?
Resilience is your life jacket when life gets tough and unexpected. Life does not come with a map and it is more than likely that we will all face difficult circumstances from time to time. These situations will affect people differently and are filled with uncertainty and strong emotions. However, due to our natural resilience, we overcome these stressful situations. In times like these, we can take extra precautions and strengthen our resilience.
As much as the experiences are painful at times and tough, they don’t have to control your outcome and your life. Resilience teaches us to adapt, overcome and grow from the experience and right now we can all benefit from a stronger mental resilience.
Read on further to discover how you can strengthen yours and overcome and preserve your mental health.
The importance of resilience in times of crisis
Have you ever wondered why some people are better at coping with extreme stress or troubling times than others? Everyone faces different challenges but people with strong mental resilience have a higher tolerance for emotional distress at difficult times. The more resilient you are the better you are able to cope in the face of adversity. We can all relate to disappointing experiences, stress, anxiety and loss. Building a stronger resilience will help you maintain a positive outlook on life so you can bounce back from life’s setbacks.
Building a stronger resilience
No one is born with resilience, it’s something you pick up and develop early on in life. Some are more sensitive to emotional hardship and find it challenging to cope in difficult circumstances. Building a stronger resilience takes time and it’s an ongoing process. If you’ve had to face difficult situations it is likely that you have learnt from those situations. You will also recognize some ways of not coping, such as numbing yourself emotionally or with alcohol or drugs.
In the midst of hardship, it is nearly impossible to think that anything good can come of it. But building resilience to surviving hardship is like strengthening your immune system to better fight off foreign damaging bodies and diseases. Difficult situations often teach us important things about ourselves and enable us to grow as people.
The benefits of stronger mental resilience can help you to:
- Stay positive and keep you focused
- Stay productive and less afraid of uncertain circumstances
- Manage and work through strong emotions, even when it’s out of our comfort zones
- Profoundly strengthens your relationships and improve communication skills.
- Improves self-esteem and self-worth
- Gives you the confidence to find solutions to problems logically or creatively
The good news is that anyone can develop and strengthen their inner resilience. The following tips might help you build and strengthen your mental resilience. They ensure you can take on tumultuous times and ensure that you make it to brighter days.
Acceptance is key, but it needs some practice
During the course of stressful events or times, we all cope with it differently to protect ourselves against the external situations at hand. Some people cope by refusing to accept the reality of what is happening around them. This is rather common, because mentally when we deny the crisis at hand we convince ourselves that we have control over uncontrollable events.
Denial only prolongs the pain, but it gives you time to deal with the shock of a traumatic event. However, remaining in the denial phase stops one from seeking solutions or taking the necessary actions in order to heal. By accepting what has happened, we can start the healing process. Changes in our daily lives are inevitable, and many aspects are completely out of our hands. It can seem tough not having control over situations but refusing to accept the reality of the situation will only drain our energy and leave us feeling extremely anxious. Only when we accept that we have no control can we divert our attention and energy to the situations which we do have control over.
Make a list of things, events or situations that you have no control over. Give yourself permission to stop worrying over them. Instead, direct your energy and focus on the actions which you can take. For example, if you lost your job recently due to COVID that’s not in your control. You can take back control by how much time or effort you put into searching for a new job, or you can take action and upskill in order to get a job you want. The same goes for when a loved one is facing a life-threatening situation. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control the amount of support and love you give during such a time.
A great way to learn acceptance is by looking at your past. Perhaps you went through a traumatic event which at the point you didn’t think you would be able move on from. Looking back gives you an idea of how you have dealt with these situations previously and adapt your coping mechanisms accordingly. By examining your successes, you derive some confidence to face the current adversity.
Accept your feelings
It is very tempting to think that by ignoring your feelings, you will get rid of the hard times you are undergoing. Unpleasant emotions exist whether we accept them or not. By preventing your emotions to rise to the surface will only add extra stress and delay you from powering through your difficult time. Allow yourself to experience these emotions even when they are strong and overbearing. Only then will they start fading.
Tip 2:Reach out to friends or family
One of the main reasons why this pandemic has been so tough on us is the fact that we were isolated from friends and family under the lockdown regulations. Connecting with people when you face adversity will ease stress and ultimately boost your frame of mind. Instead of feeling alone, you can draw the strength you need from friends and family. When reaching out, it is important to remember that friends and family might not always have the solution to your problems, but having someone you can speak to without judgment will aid in building up a stronger resilience.
Prioritizing your relationships with people who are loving and caring will do wonders for your mental health. It’s not possible to see everyone for a face to face conversation, nevertheless, human connection is a necessity and sometimes eye-contact, a hug or a smile can help when one is undergoing a difficult time. Luckily in a world with loads of technology, connecting to others has never been easier.
Avoid withdrawing yourself in difficult times. It is human to want to retreat into your safe space when adversity strikes. Never allow yourself to believe that you are a burden when reaching out, that’s why we have family and friends. Good friends certainly won’t consider you a burden, in fact, they might take it as a huge sign of trust when you come to them in adversity.
By all means necessary, try and avoid negative people. The last thing you need is someone with a toxic mentally that’s bound to make you feel worse after spending time with them. Avoid conversations that are going to magnify your problems or leave you even more anxious and stressed out than you already are.
Tip 3:It’s time to invest in self-care
In tough times you feel mentally and physically drained because of the heightened state of stress and anxiety. All of which could lead to health problems. Stress and anxiety do have an impact on your immune system and can lower it. It can also lead to digestive problems or burnout. Because the body and the mind are so closely linked, if your body feels great so does your mind. Self-care forms an important part in building resilience and getting through tough times. Below are some important self-care tips that we will discuss in detail.
Getting enough exercise
When an impala gets chased by a lion and gets away it would find a shady spot and start tremoring. The tremor releases the stress and anxiety of escaping with their lives. Our bodies store stress and anxiety in places, normally in our shoulders or back. Getting frequent exercise releases healthy endorphins in our brain which improves our mood drastically. It also releases built-up tension that’s stored in the body.
Practise Mindfulness relaxation techniques
Mindfulness meditation is coupled with deep breathing and body awareness that helps relieve stress and restores your central nervous system. You can access mindfulness relaxation techniques on Youtube that range anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours, depending on your preference.
Eat well and focus on getting enough quality sleep
The saying goes “You are what you eat” and when you eat junk food it takes a toll on your body and you end up feeling like that. A healthy diet will go a long way in helping you restore your energy and strengthens your immune system. In difficult times nothing wears you down like a bad night’s rest. Improving day time habits combined with exercise will often lead to sleeping better at night.
Building a stronger mental resilience may take some time, but it’s possible to achieve. Often people turn their fear and uncertainty around and form a resilience in the face of adversity. During a worldwide pandemic such as the one we are facing, it is important to find long-term support systems. Both adults and children could benefit from the programs and support that ZwavelStream clinic has to offer.
Here you will be met by a warm and friendly team in an environment that is completely de-stigmatized and de-institutionalized, surrounded by the beautiful nature in Bronberg, Pretoria-east. Contact us today if you feel that you could benefit from a long-term support system.