It’s funny what can put you over the edge. I had been managing to stay pretty upbeat during the first two weeks plus of “pandemic normal.” All through my son’s layoff, my work cancellations, my husband’s working at home and my newly terrifying trips to the grocery store. But the last straw for me was when on Tuesday, as president of my condo board, I had to shut down our roof deck. It was the one place where people here could go to be alone or to work, or to let their toddler run around for a few minutes. Stricter stay-at-home guidelines took that last little escape away from us. Tuesday was also the day that it became clear that these orders will probably have to remain in place not until the end of April, but more likely at least the end of May. I felt sad, depressed and trapped.
Today, I read about polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation that found high numbers of people suffering mentally and emotionally from the pandemic. Forty-five percent said it had affected their mental health, with 19% saying it had a “major impact.” Nobody knows yet how this experience, which is essentially a mass trauma, will affect us long term. Many, if not most, people have the coping resources to bounce back, but as always, some are more resilient than others. And even highly resilient people are finding themselves challenged right now.
What does resilience look like anyway? Here are some of the characteristics of resilient people:
Commitment – a resilient person has a sense of meaning & purpose; and believes in their own value.
Challenge – a resilient person sees change as opportunity and looks for creative ways to manage it.
Control – a resilient person tries to impact the things they have control over, and lets go of the things they don’t.
You can build your resilience by:
- Developing & strengthening supportive relationships – it’s more important than ever to bolster the bonds you have with family, neighbors and co-workers in order to build a mutual support network. Keep reaching out.
- Making & carrying out realistic plans – even it’s just a daily to-do list, rather than a long-term plan, it’s important to have a structure and to get a sense of accomplishment from each day.
- Believing in yourself — Keep saying, “I can do this.” Think back to other hard times when you survived and thrived.
- Enhancing your communication skills — take the time to think about what you write in emails and texts so that your true meaning gets conveyed; check in with people more often by phone; work on ways to convey meaning without the benefit of body language; use humor.
- Learning how to manage strong feelings — take the time everyday to sit quietly for a few minutes and notice what arises. Name your feelings, think about where they’re coming from, maybe write them down. Tell yourself that it’s okay to feel the way you do.
In case you haven’t been with me for long, you might also want to read some of my older posts about resilience — one in 2014 about bouncing back, and another after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
We’re going through one of the biggest challenges most of us will ever have to face, but I I have to believe we can get through it. I wish you and your loved ones continued good health. Be safe, stay strong.