“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” W. Churchill
The world has turned upside down and one crisis seems to follow the next. We have gone through a global pandemic, we have changed the way we live our daily lives and things we used to do to cope might not be available anymore. Many of us have experienced losses, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a way of life, but also we have seen a rise in domestic violence, daily distress, addictions, depression and anxiety impacting our ability to function daily.
You may notice that you feel more hopeless and out of control and your emotions sway to extremes more frequently. We all have different coping mechanisms and at times when you look around you may notice that some people are handling things pretty well and are able to withstand difficult circumstances and others are struggling.
Now more than ever we need to make time to take care of ourselves. Working on building this resilience will help us over the next hurdles. Accepting that we have no control of the current situation is a start. The more we fight against the changes the more we deplete our energy.
So how do we cope? The truth is there is an abundance of useful information out there on how to manage. So much that it can actually be overwhelming to find what you are looking for.
The more resilient we are the more we can manage stress and emotional difficulties. We'll be able to adapt to change much easier and see the positives in challenging situations. We can regulate and endure circumstances that are outside our comfort zone and stay focused in times perceived positive or negative. Here are a few suggestions to help.
We are social creatures and need social connection. Connecting with those around us is more important than you can imagine. It helps us regulate emotionally, increases our self-esteem and decreases our depression and anxiety. Sharing and leaning on those around can be beneficial, increasing your resilience and improving your physical and psychological wellbeing.
LEARNING TO ACCEPT
Change is an inescapable part of life. Finding the willingness to accept and experience things as they come can be beneficial. Even though things are difficult at the moment denying what you are going through will amplify the anguish and frustration. Acceptance urges you to move forward rather than feeling constantly stuck in the "what ifs" and "should haves".
Learning to accept means learning to let go. Let's try something together. Imagine your hand holding tight onto a pebble. Keep squeezing your fist as tight as you can, keep going, hold that pebble as tight as you can until it becomes impossible to hold on, now take a deep breath and drop the pebble. The relief is extremely satisfying. There is only so much energy and strength one can can hold on tightly without causing pain to your hand. The same applies when you refuse to accept a situation. You may want to hold on to things as long and as tight as possible but it becomes more difficult and causes more pain. But just like that you can choose to open your palm and let go of the pebble.
MEANING, MODERATION and MOTIVATION
Finding meaning and purpose in times of hardship is not easy. Doing things that are meaningful to you can help your daily problems not overwhelm you. An act of kindness can go a long way ."For it is in giving that we receive" St Francis off Assisi. People experience happiness when they help others. Especially in these difficult times that we live in giving your time is even more valuable. It has been proven that doing something nice for someone activates our neural pathways and produces dopamine which is our "feel good" hormone. Smile! Connect! Be kind! These things are contagious, they make us feel like we have sense of purpose and they even have a long-term benefit on our health. Research has shown that altruistic behaviours can also reduce chronic pain symptoms.
Do things in moderation. It is challenging and self-control is not something that comes easy for many people. Try not to have an all or nothing attitude, life or death, bad or good, these are total extremes. When it comes to work, try to remind yourself we do not live to work but more like we work to live. The same can be said about diets, alcohol, sex, stress etc. In this fast pace world that we live in we are constantly bombarded with more stimulation and this need to keep striving to increase the experience so our senses just keep craving more. The downside is we just keep desensitizing and stimuli lose their capacity to provide pleasure. We get caught up in a perpetual cycle and finding that balance between extreme highs and extreme lows is key and its where our happiness, success and healthy living can be found.
Try to keep yourself motivated. Have a positive outlook and keep things within the day. Celebrate small daily victories, they bring about encouragement and keep you going. Trying to keep some balance in the day is never easy, setting a few moments aside for yourself, to breathe, slow everything down. Self-care can help avoid physical and emotional burnout.
It is a topic that has become even more evident with this pandemic and it is an essential one. We hear everyday "try and make time to practice mind and body relaxation techniques". But many of us feel there is no time. Yes there is, there are apps that take a few minutes of your day to help your body and nervous system back to equilibrium.
The same applies for sleeping, eating and getting enough exercise. All these contribute to a more balanced way of living and becoming more resilient. The more you can take care of self the more self will be able to carry you through these times of hardship.