By: Abbey Folsom, MS, LDN and Nicole Ennis, PhD
In terms of physics, resilient means to bend and not break, to be pliable. To define and analyze the word resilient, one can apply the physical definition to better understand the concept that we practice in our everyday lives. Yes, resilience, like many other healthy behaviors, is a practice. Psychologists consider a multifactorial approach to understanding resilience. What are those determining factors? Context, situation or traumatic event, personality and most importantly, available resources and the wherewithal to use them (Southwick et al., 2014).
For us, one word sums up the definition of resilient: flexible. As you approach your life now, ask yourself, “Am I flexible enough to adapt successfully to the hardship we are presented with during this international pandemic? What am I doing well? What do I need more practice with? What resources do I need to adapt and cope during this time? How am I coping with the isolation stress of COVID-19?”
We remind ourselves constantly that we are resilient. We remind ourselves that we are in a period of transition, a time of change, and that resisting this will only cause greater emotional distress. To accept and adapt represents the growth mindset of resilience. Being strong is not about being tough enough to weather the storm, but about altering your course (adapting) to lessen negative impact. It will not be perfect, as nothing ever is, but if we can make it good enough, then we are on the right track. Life may not be okay right now, nothing about what we are dealing with is “normal.” We must manage the boundary of being an informed citizen versus succumbing to an overwhelming amount of depressing news. We can use our extra time to dedicate to self-care.
Give yourself permission to acknowledge when things are not okay or that you are frustrated, that is a practical way to deal with adversity. The more you learn to manage your anger, frustration and limitations in any situation the more you acquire resilience or preparatory skills for future adversity? Know your limitations and remember that “No” is a complete sentence. It is ok to say NO to protect ourselves when we can’t do anymore, and it is ok to be frustrated when we hear NO. No, we can’t socialize; no, we can’t hug our family members; no, we can’t leave our houses. We encourage you acknowledge your limitations, frustrations, fears, and anger.
There is not an easy way to smooth things over. The truth is we are all figuring it out as we go through the stages of adaptation and grief of an international pandemic. Right now, we are only sure about a couple of things: 1) this is a time of innovation-do your best, and 2) what we have endured during this time is an unbridled testimony of our resilience.
Southwick, S. M., Bonanno, G. A., Masten, A. S., Panter-Brick, C., & Yehuda, R. (2014). Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: interdisciplinary perspectives. European journal of psychotraumatology, 5, 10.3402/ejpt.v5.25338. https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v5.2 5338