What we might call “bouncing back,” “rolling with the punches,” or “bending so we don’t break,” psychologists define as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, or significant stress. These problems, as the APA American Psychological Association defines it, can include family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.* It sure feels like COVID-19 has hit us in all of these departments.
With no real end in sight, we are finding ourselves called to be stronger and braver than we’ve ever thought possible. If we’re totally honest, however, there are times when it all just seems to be getting the best of us. We have moments when we feel beaten down, exhausted, stressed, and ready to break. Yet somehow, we make it through to the next moment. We find a way to carry on and even thrive.
The good news is that resilience is something that actually can be built with effort. Every time we face a new challenge and succeed, we are building confidence in our own mental strength and flexibility. In an article in The New Yorker, author Maria Konnikova explains that so much of resilience has to do with how we frame the issues we face, that remaining hopeful and positive is a vital aspect of overcoming obstacles.**
We might think to ourselves, “Why would I want to work on resilience? That doesn’t sound fun.” But without it, when challenges hit, we may find ourselves turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. While we might persist, “I just need to fix this one thing in front of me,” new challenges are always going to crop up in varying forms. Resilience is something we’re going to need for the rest of our lives.
With resilience, you still experience anger, fear, pain, and loss—you just aren’t as consumed by them. You’re able to keep your head above water and maintain your expanded view of the horizon. Resilience won’t make your problems go away, but it will help you see past them so you can bounce back quicker. It will help you find enjoyment in what’s going right, even when some areas are feeling rocky. Here are 8 steps for building resilience in these uncertain times:
One of the most challenging aspects of social distancing is the forced separation from our loved ones. Don’t underestimate the impact that this distance can have on your mental health. Keep finding creative ways to stay connected to your community. Building a support network means you’ll have people there when you need them. One way is to connect with the Glo Community, where you can join group discussions on almost anything you are experiencing or start a chat of your own.
Learn from experience
If you’ve encountered a challenge in the past, you know if a certain approach worked for you or didn’t, if you should endeavor to conquer new challenges with the same tool kit or find a new one. This should not, however, mean guilting or shaming yourself. Reflecting isn’t judging, it’s simply gathering information to avoid repeating past mistakes.
Beating yourself up for your current situation won’t help you. Blaming others also will not. It’s easy to spend a lot of time dwelling on the how and why, but if possible, try to forgive yourself and others for what got you here. It’s the first step towards making a real change.
Take care of yourself
Sometimes when we feel that we are powerless over a particular situation, it can be helpful to work on another aspect of what it means to have a full life. If your career is encountering a stumbling block, dedicate some time to exercising, spring cleaning your home, spending extra quality time with family, or making some healthy meals. Sometimes when we set the problem aside and truly dedicate ourselves to making another aspect of our lives better, when we come back to the challenge we find things have shifted just a little bit.
The weeks and months of quarantine have left many of us feeling cooped up and beaten down. It’s understandable to feel scared and uncertain right now, and trying to keep track of all of the shifting information can be overwhelming. Instead, try to find at least one thing each day that you can feel hopeful about. There are some incredible stories of people showing up for others in beautiful ways. Find something that gives you a lift. Think about it several times a day and allow hope to take root.
Finding a sense of purpose can help you shift your mind off of your immediate problem, move forward, and ultimately build some confidence and resilience. Purpose can be big—you finally find that your life is more than just your job and your car and you find meaning in simpler living. Or, purpose can be something small—a way to create, give back, or connect. What really matters is that it’s something that really gives your life some meaning and reminds you that life is bigger than the obstacle you are facing.
Know when to ask for help
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t muster the necessary resilience to take even one more step. It’s important to know that it’s okay to declare when enough is enough and you just can’t turn it around. It’s important to be able to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak, it just means that, at this particular moment, you need a hand. Allowing someone to help you is part of what connects us to others; it’s part of being human. Once you’ve had a boost, sooner than you think, you’ll be doing the same for others.
Like any skill, resilience takes practice. Give it time to develop and just keep at it. The online yoga and meditation classes in our Resilience collection work on emotional strength and fluidity, to help you build your resilience day by day.