Reclaiming Resilience

by Kristin Meekhof

As a mental health professional, I know that a major part of living well is the lens through which we view our world. And integrating healthy practices that enhance our world, like self-care and other holistic rituals, results in increased mental wellness.

In addition to mindfulness, resilience helps foster purposeful actions and serves as an important component to a positive state of mind. Psychologist and author of Recovering From Your Car Accident: The Complete Guide to Reclaiming Your Life, James Zender, PhD, defines resilience as an attitude of “can do, I’ve got this or belief in one’s self.”

Dr. Zender adds, “Some people are by nature or temperament more resilient, but from psychological research we know everyone can develop behaviors and actions that build resilience.”

And these actions are doable regardless of where you live, and they can be done in micro ways as well. For example, research shows that meditation can have a lasting positive effect on our physical and mental health. If you find yourself in a pinch for time, even doing three minutes of mindful breathing can be a useful reset.

Part of being resilient is knowing how to thrive when things go sideways. Anxiety occurs when we feel things are out of control, both literally and physically. One of the easiest ways to re-establish control is to take charge of your breath with intentional and mindful breath work. Another way to feel in control is to decide what you will do with your next 10 minutes.

Knowing you’re capable of taking charge of little things will offer you a clearer way to tackle challenges and help to transform the overwhelmed feeling. Honing in on the small good things points you the right direction toward resilience.

Five tools for navigating stress and strengthening resilience

Invest in yourself. While our focus is often on others, there is only one you. And now is the time to get the support you need, even though you may not feel worthy. Look at your mental and physical health from the perspective of healing. Shifting the focus to repairing and rebuilding will help reduce your pain.

Create something new. This doesn’t mean you’re making a new invention or finding a vaccine; it can be an action that is new to you, such as an exercise or a recipe. This act of innovating will engage you in problem-solving skills with little risk involved. You’ll feel good regardless of the end result, just knowing you tried something new.

Do a social media audit. If you’re taking in negative news, images and comments, it can impact your own thoughts and mood. Sure, everyone has something to say, but if you notice someone’s account is consistently negative, consider unfollowing them. Keeping your mind space healthy strengthens your resilience.

Seek a mentor. A mentorship can be a formal or informal arrangement, but the relationship serves as a way to set goals (professional and/or personal) with someone who is gently holding you accountable. And knowing you have someone to check in with about your progress can help you stay on track and tweak your actions to help you meet your goals.

Give a compliment. Carrying emotional weight can make us feel heavy, and one of the ways to feel lighter is to share a positive remark. Offering a compliment or giving an extra tip to the barista may just mean you’ve made it to someone’s gratitude list.

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