Resilience

Resilience is our ability to bounce back from difficulties and with COVID-19 our ability to bounce back is being tested.  For many of the baby-boomers and younger generations we are facing unprecedented times. 

We are faced with uncertainty.  Many of us face uncertainty in our employment, many of our friends or people we know have lost their employment.  There is financial uncertainty and with the need for social distancing many of the support structures we previously used in times of uncertainty such as catching up with friends is no longer available.

The impact of such uncertainty on our mental health is acknowledged by both governments and mental health experts.

One of the important things we can do is to remember our resilience.  When we feel down and alone it is easy to feel we don’t have any resilience.  It’s easy to think resilience is what other people have rather than us.

The good news is that we all have resilience.  We may not have been aware of it in the past, but it has still been there.  Resilience is like a muscle; it needs to be exercised to grow stronger.  When we get back to the gym again, we will probably experience pain for the first few days as muscles we had forgotten about remind us, they have been there all along.  So, with resilience.  We all have it, and life has now provided us an opportunity to exercise and develop our resilience further. 

How do you start?

Remember!

Remember times when you have gone through difficulties and you came through them.  Remembering is not to re-live those difficulties but to remind yourself of your strength in getting through the situation.

When we feel overwhelmed, we forget our strength, our resilience.

Take time to remember you are resilient!

Remember the quality of gratitude.  The quality of being thankful.

There is lots we can complain about.  It’s easy to complain, yet the more we complain, the more down we feel, then we begin to feel annoyed and frustrated and it becomes a downward cycle.

If resilience is the muscle we are exercising and gratitude or being thankful is a bench-press, what can we appreciate in our lives now?

Sometimes, it’s good to write down what we like and appreciate. It helps us remember; it is also something we can go back to when we feel we don’t have anything to be thankful for.

In building resilience find at least 2 or 3 things you are thankful for each day.

Remember empathy.  This is the ability to understand what another person, your friend, your partner, your children may be experiencing. 

It’s easy currently to make things about yourself.  The “it’s not fair” routine.

Well, life is rarely fair, which is why we are building resilience.

Previously, when we went to the gym, you might go with a friend who would “spot” you when you lifted weights.   They would be there to make sure you didn’t hurt yourself or would help you lift those extra two couple of reps. 

Think of empathy as you are the friend who “spots” in developing your own resilience.  One of the most damaging things for our mental health is a sense of loneliness and isolation.  Empathy helps us safeguard ourselves against isolation because we know we are connected to other people,

In the gym, when you have finished using a machine and sweated all over the seat, it’s your responsibility to wipe down the machine so it is ready for the next person.  It is not ok gym etiquette to leave a sweaty puddle over a machine for the next user.

We all have responsibilities, as parents, as leaders in the workplace, as employees.  We have multiple responsibilities.    

In developing resilience, we also have a responsibility to ourselves. People can remind us we have resilience, but it is up to us to do the work of developing and increasing it. 

Life at the moment is giving us an opportunity to remember and develop our resilience, but it is our responsibility to take the opportunity and use it as best we can.