Resilience seems to have become a bit of a buzz word of late. Apparently, it is something we should all be and something that we should be developing in our children. So, what exactly is resilience?
Resilience has been defined as our ability to recover from difficulties or setbacks. How well we cope with situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak, is a good example. Luckily there are some concrete behaviours, skills and attitudes that you can practice to help boost your resilience.
Resilience starts with being aware of your own emotions and emotional reactions. Check-in with yourself regularly to see how you are feeling. If you can, name whatever you are feeling and try to identify why you are feeling that particular emotion. This will help you recognise your emotions faster and understand what triggers different emotions for you.
Extending this, resilient people are adept at recognising the emotions of others. Become familiar with cues from others that indicate how they may be feeling. Some clues may be obvious, such as yelling when angry, whilst others will be subtler. Whilst emotions may manifest differently between people, being able to identify common indicators will help you navigate interactions more effectively, provide a greater sense of control, and help you to find different ways to tackle problems.
When things seem uncertain or a crisis emerges, resilient people are able to keep a cool head. This helps not only to calm the situation, but it helps them to assess the situation more effectively and identify possible solutions. In a crisis, many will develop tunnel vision, causing them to become fixated on the problem. This can quickly spiral out of control making the problem see insurmountable, resulting in panic, irrational decision-making, and unsafe outcomes.
If you feel anxiety rising, stop what you are doing, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Are you breathing deeply or are your breaths shallower? Try to slow your breathing down and aim for nice deep belly breaths. This will help you physically and mentally calm yourself, allowing you to re-focus and move forward.
Resilient people are unafraid to seek help,and know how and where to access help should they need to. They are resourceful and understand that they don’t need to have all of the answers! They also understand that failure is not the end of the world. Resilient people focus more on the journey or experience than the outcome. They will reflect on their experiences – both good and bad,and identify what they learnt along the way. This has been referred to as a ‘growth mindset’, which is a simple way of saying someone understands that they are a work in progress and everything they do takes them a little further along their learning path.
Finally, resilient people tend to have a strong social support system. Having a safe space or someone with which to discuss challenges you are facing not only gives you the opportunity to express your feelings, but to gain a different perspective on things too.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to check-in regularly with family, friends and other parents in your network. Sharing and talking about your experiences will help you to navigate this uncertain time. You may also come up with new solutions and ideas to help you and your family cope during this stressful period. Remember that it is ok not to be ok and there are professional services available to help you.