To say these times are challenging is an understatement. We are facing the complexity of a pandemic, political unrest, socio-economic uncertainty, and a diverse set of other related stressors all at the same time. Many of the associated life changes have been out of our control. Increased discomfort and anxiety are a normal response to lack of control and certainty! So, how are you responding?
Here’s a few things that will build resilience and help you not only respond to stressors with a greater degree of strength, but also with a sense of personal growth.
Resilience is the ability to cope and thrive in the face of adversity; to use challenges to foster strength and even prosperity. Resiliency is not just about accepting struggles and making mistakes, but rather it’s about a willingness to lean into challenges, reach out for help, and learn from the difficult times.
Being resilient helps you bring your attention to the present of what you can control so that, in turn, your decisions with respect to stress are more rewarding.
Here are 5 ways to build your resiliency and thrive in the face of challenges:
- Reflect on the story your mind is building about your challenge. Often our minds create a story that feeds into a fear that projects more distress about the future. Ask yourself how often you use catastrophic language like, “always” or “never.” And when you do, experiment with re-label your thoughts, ‘My anxious story.’ Then draw your attention back to the present moment and ask yourself what you know to be true right now. What is the reality? Ask the question “Am I safe at this moment?” This will cultivate a greater degree of awareness of how “the story” is running in your mind and how, “it”, not necessarily reality, is influencing your state. We can decide whether to frame and interpret challenges with fear and overwhelming language or with a different story that incorporates our strength and perseverance.
- Identify what you can control. Focusing solely on what is out of our control fosters anxiety. Pull your attention back to the things in your life that you can control, in the here and now.
- Seek support and cultivate your social community. We are social beings, so being socially disconnected naturally creates an increase in anxiety. Acknowledge the need to feel connected and seen in the context of safe relationships. A sense that you are part of a community builds greater resiliency. Be proactive in reaching out to schedule social connection and build it into your weekly schedule.
- Welcome challenges, setbacks and emotions without judgement. Acknowledge your challenges and feelings just as they are without making them “wrong.” On the contrary, “welcome the unwelcome” with open arms and all the loving kindness you can muster. And give them room to be seen and explored by you.
- Be touched by what you are feeling. Take the time to notice your feelings instead of brushing over them as if they weren’t there. Feeling those emotions, whatever they may be, is essential to overall health. What is accessible is not about getting rid of the feelings, but rather getting to know them intimately. Give them space and be inquisitive. Shutting out our emotional challenges causes increased distress and anxiety. Engage with those feelings and be in relationship with how you are doing, both emotionally and physically. This builds your inner knowing and in turn your overall emotional strength and well-being.
Resiliency varies from person to person and it can very well be an acquired skill. But we are each capable. Take the time to develop and grow your resiliency in the face of any setback or hardship. And if you are struggling to overcome a traumatic and challenging event seek professional help. Post trauma symptoms respond very well to professional treatment. Therapy can help you develop a greater sense of resiliency as you work through the daily and worldly stresses we currently face.
There is no time like the present. And the current present seems to be providing us with plenty of opportunities.