2020 – The Year of Covid
2020 has been the most challenging time in recent history. Peoples around the world were told to lock down and stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus, the media reporting ever increasing with fear and concern.
Now that the lockdown is easing, that fear and concern, for some people, is hard to shift.
This is where resilience really comes into its own.
What is Resilience?
Resilience has become a hot topic in recent years and I thought I would explore it with my Emotional Mastery hat on.
For me, resilience most definitely is the ability to pick ourselves up after adversity, to recover, dust ourselves down and keep some sort of level headed balance about us.
Life is not a straight line and it most definitely not a ‘bed of roses’.
But nature has built us a mechanism to help us deal with adversity. A way that we can cope with what life throws at us and the beauty is that it is a skill which can be learnt.
For me, like many things, there will be a spectrum that covers resilience, from a lot of resilience to a little resilience, and we may move along this spectrum depending on where we are in life, how much is going on, and whether we have had change to learn and grow from the last adversity before facing the next. So, wherever you are is just a moment in time. And perhaps now is the time to develop those skills that will mean that when the next change or impact comes along you are ready.
- Some sort of adversity, trauma, threats or significant stress
- Invariably impacts our emotional, mental and physical (and for those inclined spiritual) wellbeing
- Facing up to what is happening, whilst it is happening ideally, but definitely soon after
- Making sure you have a great support network around you
- Being able to recover from adversity in a timely and appropriate way
- Learning from the events in life to grow and develop
- Knowing it doesn’t need to determine the outcome of life
- A set of skills that can be learnt including emotional, mental and behavioural
- Knowing what you can control and remembering that when the world around you seems to have gone crazy, stupid
- Like a muscle, the more we practise wellness and healthy ways of being, the more we can ‘know’ we can handle life and all its challenges.
Resilience is not…
- Avoiding, ignoring, or pretending that adversity isn’t or hasn’t happened, in particular the emotional, mental and physical impacts it has had.
- Being extraordinary – it is the ‘normal’ of life, so no special requirements
- Proving or pretending oneself to be tough, strong, invincible
- Dwelling on the problems and keeping stuck in the drama
- Developing unhealthy coping strategies such as drinking, eating, smoking etc
- Being so overwhelmed that you just make reactive decisions, without much considered thought
- Ignoring what is going on and pretending all is well, that you are coping
How to Create Your Own Emotional and Mental Resilience
I advocate knowing what is going on INSIDE of you by LISTENING to your emotional content. (for those who live in their head, use your thoughts to label those feelings, or what you might be feeling). Tuning into what is happening inside. There are lots of ways you can do this – meditation, mindfulness, but the key is paying attention to what is going on inside of you.
Here are some of the things that you can do:-
What is your go to behaviour when stressed or facing adversity? Some eat, some stop eating, others drink, and others smoke.
In my experience, whatever habit gives you comfort, will just become louder more exaggerated when under pressure. By knowing what you do (just sense check a previous event to see what you did), you can begin to build new strategies to help you. Ie instead of eating, perhaps you could choose to go for a walk. Rather than drinking, how about ring a friend. Not hard and fast and most definitely not one fixes all, choose what works for you.
It is important to really pay attention to how you are feeling and thinking when life is tough, these will be the clues that let you know what, if anything needs to change.
Make sure that you have supportive relationships around you. These are people who do not judge you, who empathise with you (not sympathy, this is not a useful pattern) and can allow you to download when you need. Usually a good friend, but could equally be a family or a partner.
Health & Wellbeing
In times of adversity this can be the first thing that gets dropped. Whilst this may be the case and can be right, just make sure that you are not then taking on the unhealthy patterns that then typically take over. Eating or not, drinking, smoking etc. Take time out for self care routines, whatever they may be.
This time is more important than you may realise. When making time for self care, what you are also doing, is enabling time and space for the body to process what has been going on. It is not generally known that whilst the thinking brain has evolved, the unconscious brain has not and still works the way it always has done. And it needs time to process those emotions triggered by the external events.
This processing of the event generally happens outside of our awareness. However, there are things we can do to help ourselves through this time, to process what we need to process. My Automatic Letter Writing Exercise is one example where you can begin to work through on multiple levels what is going on. Another easy and effective way is to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), check out Brad Yates on You Tube.
Learn to recognise that (even) if you are a person who likes to be in control (and let’s face it who doesn’t?), that there are some things we just cannot control. The weather, nature, politics, society etc.
However, there is a technique I learnt years ago in counselling called the Locus of Control. This is where you identify what you can control within the events going on around and external to you. For example, the coronavirus, we could isolate ourselves, decide how to do the shopping we needed, wear protective masks etc. This was in our control.
Those things that are not in our control, (and I understand that this can be harder), it is about ‘letting them go’ out of your responsibility field. This then gets you to start thinking about what you can do and helps you re-focus on your control area.
Resilience then is something that everyone has the ability to practice. It is a set of skills that can be developed to support people when going through periods of adversity. How we cope with adversity and change is personal, but we have the ability to help ourselves be stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to deal with what life sends our way, by learning from the past.
Any questions or want to find out more? Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.