By Hannah O’Grady, LMSW
The past year-and-a-half has been difficult. Many of us have overcome hardships never imagined, and our coping skills have been put to the ultimate test. On the bright side, we have built up resiliency – we are better able to weather changes, overcome obstacles, and withstand adversity. How can we maintain our resiliency going forward? Here are three key strategies:
Seek Community & Connection. Throughout COVID, many faced a level of prolonged isolation, and the lack of social support took a major toll on our mental health. In this context, many sought out community and connection with others – whether virtually, distanced, or in other ways. When we are part of a community, our experiences and emotions are validated and we realize that we are not alone. Connections with others help us find strength, build confidence, and even competence since we can reach out to others for help with problem-solving. To maintain our resilience, we need to intentionally maintain our social connections.
Be Proactive. No matter how resilient we are, we cannot control everything in life. Furthermore, at least some level of pain is inevitable. However, we can be proactive and cope-ahead to lessen the blows of life. For example, the winter months are difficult for many. If this is the case for you, plan ahead now for how you will cope with the potential shift in your mood. This could involve scheduling a trip to see family or friends, diving into a new hobby, or dedicating time to a workout routine. By being proactive, we can reduce our vulnerabilities and maintain resilience.
Maintain Balanced Perceptions. When we face hardship and adversity, it can feel like the end of the world. However, extreme thinking in the face of adversity can inhibit effective coping, since in reality, most obstacles we face are ones that we can overcome with time. To be clear: you don’t need to frame every setback in a positive light or be happy about what’s happening. That could lead to self-invalidation. However, it is productive to keep our thoughts balanced and in check. For example, thinking “I am horrible at this job and going to get fired!” is more extreme than “I guess I have some changes to make – let’s try this again” when receiving constructive criticism.