Here we are again. Covid-19 lockdown. The place we all hoped we would never have to visit again. We just have to look to other parts of the world, to see how fortunate we have been here in NZ, living so long in a relatively Covid free world.
Even with that perspective, being thrown into lockdown again after so long living a relatively ‘normal’ life, can and does take its toll on our mental and physical health. The uncertainty of the world we live in right now is incredibly hard. It can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. One minute we feel fine, we can deal with it. The next life hits us like a brick and we are struggling to concentrate, function and even do the daily essentials like getting dressed.
What is resilience?
When faced with adversity in life, how does a person cope or adapt? How do some people cope better than others in lockdown? Why do some people seem to bounce quicker than others? Why do some of us seem to get “stuck”, without the ability to move forward?
The term given to being able to cope, adapt and recover from adverse events in our lives is resilience. A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back quicker and with less stress from the adversities of life. As opposed to letting difficulties, traumatic events or failure overcome them and drain their resolve.
Why do we need resilience?
In one word – Covid. It is a great example why we need to build our resilience, so we don’t get too knocked around by the uncertainty of life right now.
Being resilient doesn’t mean we won’t experience adversity. But having resilience can buffer the adverse effects of stressful life events. Highly resilient people understand setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover. They find a way to change course, emotionally heal and move forwards.
Building better resilience
While genetics do have some influence in the development of wellbeing and resilience, the good news is that resilience can be built. Below are some steps you can take to help build more resilience:
Focus on what you can control – this is especially key right now. Ensuring you are spending your time and energy on things you can control, as opposed to dwelling on what you cannot.
Instead of wishing there was a way to change things, try focusing only on the things that are in your control. What can you do right now? What one small action can you take?
- Turn off the news and remove news apps from your phone – we have no control over what is happening right now, and having a constant stream of doom and gloom entering our consciousness will only make us feel worse.
- Set a routine for your day – get up, get dressed, take a walk to work, even if it’s just a walk around the block, you can then ‘arrive at work’. When you finish work for the day, do the same to walk ‘home’. This will help set some boundaries too.
- Move your body – a home workout, a walk outside, some yoga. Give purpose to your body rather than just collapsing on the coach in a Netflix coma.
- Eat well – yes it can be tempting to treat the pantry like a reward centre, but high sugar, refined carbohydrates will only fuel the up and down emotions you are feeling. Aim to get at least five fruit and veg in a day. Or take the plant challenge of eating 30 different plant foods per week!
Taking even just one step to help improve the situation, however small this step may be, can improve your sense of control and resilience. It doesn’t matter where you start, or if the conditions are not perfect, it just matters that you start.
Reframe your thoughts – resilient people are able to look at negative situations realistically, in a way which doesn’t place blame or dwell on what cannot be changed.
Instead of seeing the adversity as insurmountable, find a small step you can take to tackle the problem in bite-sized pieces.
- Take each day of lockdown as it comes, create that routine – try not to focus on the next ‘announcement’.
- Focus on the positive the situation presents. What new opportunities can be found? What can this situation teach you? Choose to find the good in the situation.
- What does this extra time in lockdown allow you to do? What have you always said you’d do if you had more time? Learn a new skill? Play board games with your kids? Start running?
Learn from failure. Failure is not a negative, it is actually a positive – it shows us what hasn’t worked, or what isn’t right, it’s not wrong, it’s just a sign post.
- If something hasn’t worked in the past, don’t repeat it. Think what you can learn from it, how you can adapt what you did previously and try that.
- Think of a baby learning to walk – if they gave up on the first try they would never walk. They don’t, they keep trying, over and over until they get it.
- Seek support - having a network of people you can trust and confide in is important for building resilience.
Try talking to a friend or loved one about the difficulties you are coping with. It won't make those difficulties go away, but sharing can make you feel like you are less alone. When we discuss our difficulties with someone it may help you gain insight, a new perspective or even new ideas to help you better manage the challenges you're dealing with.