Sometimes when I hear myself screaming at the computer because I cannot conjure up the proper password, my mind wanders to imagine dire mental consequences. That is not resilience—over-reacting and negative thinking. Then I realize it is not the mangled password that is threatening to tip my composure. Rather it’s the drip, drip, drip of little things that fall together—seeking the last tax form online (another password!), running out of my 16-grain bread I pop into the toaster every morning, ditto the last scoop of my Dulce de Leche ground coffee, and an hour and a half wait in the car in 97 degree heat to grab a “ready-for-pick-up” book.*
Maybe “reframing” is needed to realize most of my little problems come from how I am mismanaging my life. The “just-in-time” approach to life does not work well in this turned-around, slowed-down world, when you never know if or when a delivery will come.
What happened to my positive outlook? Time to lasso it, put the passwords in a notebook, order the bread and coffee a week ahead and get back in touch with my sense of humor. If I looked at it from 30 feet, I could probably see hilarity in my screaming at the computer screen.
Can’t think of a better definition for resiliency than “the core strength you use to lift the load of life,” offered by Amit Soog, M.D., executive director of the Global Center for Resilience and creator of the Mayo Clinic Resilient Mind in Minneapolis. Just being alive today requires extraordinary fortitude, gumption, and resilience, according to Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, VP for Health Promotion and Chief Wellness Officer, Ohio State University. Both have studied resilience for years and believe it can be learned. These are unchartered waters, but you are not put out on the waves without a paddle.
If you want less fear, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, depression, and sadness, to improve your health, relationships, and overall happiness, resilience is your best bet. You can easily find organizations online addressing resilience. Everyday Health has a guide: “What is Resilience? Your Guide to facing Life’s Challenges, Adversities, and Crises.” (https://www.everydayhealth.com/wellness/resilience/
Quick tips on how you can build your Resilient muscle to help you now and during whatever challenges will/might come your way. Over the past several months, people, even you, are learning to adapt to circumstance like never before. Bouncing back can take more time for some. That is fine. Be good to yourself, but do not suffer needlessly without reaching out for a hand.
Build Connections (American Psychological Association Strategies https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience )
Meeting up on Zoom can help break the isolation and build bridges when you are much more inside than out. If you were part of an organization before the Pandemic, reconnect by phone to see when they are reconnecting online. Meeting a face online certainly does not match in-person, but it is better than being completely isolated.
Make sure to take care of your body with good nutrition, ample sleep, plenty of water, and practice an exercise you like so you will stick to it. Following this pattern will help reduce or prevent anxiety and depression. Alcohol is not on this list because it might drown your sorrows, but it cannot guarantee how you will feel the next morning. Moderation–best route.
Find a Purpose in Life if you do not have one now
Volunteering or assist by making phone calls for a local organization you support will stretch your gratitude muscle. If you ever wanted to learn more about gardening or photography or to learn a new language, now’s the time. Helping to solve a community problem will build your sense of worth or appreciation for your life. Stretch the goals you have for yourself or create new ones.
Embrace Healthy, Positive Thoughts
If you find yourself slipping into negative ideas, redirect your thinking to productive ones. Takes practice but can be done. This situation will not last forever, so we need to think forward into the future, no matter what we are in the middle of right now. What helped you disentangle yourself from the negatives in the past? Go there to help yourself move forward.
Use Humor to Find Hope
This may be the most important of all. Times like this it is easy to allow the humor to slip from our lives, but this is when we need it most. Think of the stories in your life that brought you joy and a moment of mirth. Dig deep to pull them out. The tail end of them will carry a bit of hope to carry you through until you are naturally finding laughter again.
If you can find no joy in what once carried you along or can find no substitute for it, find someone to talk with. A counselor would be ideal. Sharing with a trusted friend would be a good first start, while you seek help maybe from a county health agency, an HMO or a private physician. Now is not the time to hold your problems inside. Get on the path to resiliency!
Watch and Become Part of the Solution
Since a picture is worth 1,000 words—here are some movies that focus on resilience—more fun than reading sentences. I have included a few movies that carry some of the same messages and a link to a wider list. https://www.everydayhealth.com/wellness/resilience/movies-and-tv-shows-that-inspire-resilience/
When They See Us, the story of the Central Park Five, wrongly convicted of beating a woman, years later exonerated
Heroine, a documentary about the female fire chief in West Virginia dealing with the opioid crisis
He Named Me Malala, the Pakistani girl who withstood a bullet to the head for her belief in educating girls like herself
Selma, based on the march in Alabama and the last three months of Martin Luther King’s life
Want to check out your own Resilience Score? https://www.everydayhealth.com/wellness/resilience/quiz-what-makes-you-resilient/
Resilient people do not yell at their computers but meet with others (even in ZOOM meetings) to devise ideas and compromises to perplexing problems. Rest up because come 2021 you all will be needed as problem solvers on the other side of this. Between now and then, be active, make time to register now and vote in November.
*(The Secrets We Kept by Laura Prescott, “Mad Men-esque period style with a spy story worthy of John le Carre.”—Entertainment Weekly) Will take you to another place—isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do? The heroine is resilient as well!)