Hello my friends. We have made it through one of the worst winter storms in Texas history…and that is after experiencing as a society social injustice, economic hardship, political division…during a global pandemic that just hit the tragic marker of 500,000 American lives lost. This is all in the last 12 months. This is hard folks! I know I am not saying anything here that has not been said and felt by all. One thing that really stood out to me since the ice has melted and the sun started shining again is RESILIENCE. Resilience is more than bouncing back after adversity. It is about taking life head on, adapting, finding humor even when there are challenges, staying open to and seeing opportunity, being resourceful. Resilience is a skill can be learned, honed and improved. An opportunity we have all been given in this last year are many experiences to practice building resilience.
There are many ways to build resilience – four key ways is to focus on self-wellness, connectedness, healthy thinking and move towards goals.
Self-wellness – I am using self-wellness versus self-care with intention. Think more broadly with wellness for yourself. Take care of your body with some movement, what you eat, drink water (and then drink more water) and get good sleep. Enjoy the 70 degree weather and appreciate not being in at or below freezing weather for 6 straight days (some with no heat….or water…or both! Talk about overcoming adversity!) Engage in meditation, breathe, journal, connect to your body. Listen to music, play drums, sing (even if you don’t sound like Beyoncé). Limit the intake of your vises. Stress takes a toll on our body so we need to build up our body so it can fight feelings of anxiety and depression.
We are energy and social beings and need to feel connected to others to thrive. This looks different for each person. Some can connect over the internet, video chats, meet up with a neighbor to go for a walk, call an old friend and share a ridiculous story that has happened and share laughter. Send a “just thinking of you” text. Maybe give that person a call and let them know the importance of hearing their voice. Video chat and enjoy looking at the face of a loved one you may not have seen in a while. Laugh with this person as well! Talk to people who validate you and your experience and offer validation to others. Join a support group, self-help group, exploration group. There are more things being offered virtually so it is easier and may feel “safer” to explore. Go to Meetup.com, “visit” a church virtually you have heard people talk about. Bring something to a neighbor, bake some cookies and give to your local firehouse. Strike up a conversation next time you are in a line, smile (even in a mask people can see and feel a smile!) Laughing and smiling lead to the release of dopamine and serotonin, which helps decrease anxiety and depression. If you are in a relationship or have friends/family you can be close with, give that person a longer hug (go for 30 seconds…then go for a minute!) Oxytocin is released with hugging and loving physical contact, which is another neurotransmitter that helps decrease anxiety and depression. Connection is huge and our brain chemistry validates this!
Speak to yourself as you want others to speak to you. Our thoughts effect how we feel. When there is judgement, “should” statements, rigidity, name calling, telling self that things are bad and always will be bad, marking your future as lost….such statements would leave anyone feeling sad, down, frustrated and depressed. I am not saying to say everything is great when it is not. However, notice the negative self-talk, notice how it feels in your body, replacing those thoughts with more balanced thoughts and keep things in perspective. Instead of “this all is horrible and I am a lazy person that should be doing more right now,” try “I am going through a hard time, I am doing my best right now and I truly believe it will get better.” Check the evidence on the other times life has been challenging and stressful and how you were able to move past it, and hopefully even grow as a person.
Move towards your goals
Make long term goals, though when things become very challenging, sometimes we have to make our goals smaller and more immediate. It could be as “small” as going for a 10 minute walk that day. Get out of the house, move your body, breath, feel the fresh air. The goal may need to be smaller to go check the mail. That is OK. Become curious with yourself. If you have hard time setting a goal, ask yourself what you used to enjoy as a child. That may be a good place to start. Set a goal, notice when you attain it, accept and feel the sense of accomplishment and do not minimize or dismiss your achievements. This will build the knowledge that you cannot just survive, but you can thrive, even during stressful times.
Take care of yourself
We are in hard times my friends. Though we are all connected through these experiences. Take care of yourself. Connect with and help a friend, neighbor, stranger. Appreciate and respect the power of your thoughts. Set small goals to work toward bigger goals. This is not our forever. Our current struggles and challenges give us more opportunity to build our resilience. How brilliant!