Growing Resilience

By: Hannah Smith, M.S

Resilience is defined as the “process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress”-American Psychological Association. In these stressful times, resiliency can feel far away. Promoting resilience in your own life may look like:

  • Building Connections-Prioritizing your relationships and surrounding yourself with compassionate and empathetic people. Join a group at your place of worship, civic groups, or a local organization to fuel that connectedness to others.
  • Foster Wellness- Take care of your body through nutrition, prioritizing sleep, hydration, and regular exercise.
  • Find purpose- It’s helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times, but it’s also important to help foster self-discovery by asking yourself, “What can I do about a problem in my life?” If the problems seem too big to tackle, break them down into pieces.
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How we handle our stress now, will help us be more resilient in the future.

Stress. We’ve all experienced it in some capacity in our own lives. However, there are two distinct types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress are positive sources of stress such as awaiting a promotion, having children, a wedding, etc… Distress are negative sources of stress that enter your life such as a pandemic, loads of paperwork, a huge workload, etc…

With the current distress in our world, it is important to recognize it in order to avoid burnout.

Burnout is described as ““A syndrome of emotional exhaustion,

depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among

individuals who do people work.” (Maslach and Jackson, 1986, p. 1).

Symptoms of burnout are:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Headaches
  • Irritability/Aggression
  • Physical/mental exhaustion
  • Problems in work relationships
  • Reduced work performance due to pessimism
  • Cynicism
  • Callousness
  • Hopelessness

Although feeling stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, there is hope.The coping strategies list can help you to avoid burnout by counteracting the effects of stress. The acknowledgment of your current stress levels is a good indicator to how your brain is responding to your environment. By creating a habit of positive coping skills, the less distress you may feel each day.

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Positive coping strategies may look different from person to person. It’s important to find ones that fit you.

‘Coping strategies’ has become a popular sentiment in many mental health circles. Some people confuse coping strategies with an automatic cure to their problems. However, coping strategies are ways that may help you to zero in on your strength, or the strength of a higher power, in order to combat the stress or problem(s) you are facing. Below are some easy coping strategies:

  • Practice Mindfulness- Try to create a habit of mindfulness each day by intentionally quieting your mind for a few minutes each day. Self-guided meditations are available on YouTube or check out the app list below.
  • Keep Things in Perspective- How you think affects how you feel. By re-evaluating your thoughts, you may change the way you see a certain situation or issue.
  • Learn to say no- Saying ‘no’ to prioritize your self care may not be a natural thing to you. Practice saying no in order to form healthy boundaries in your life.
  • Remaining hopeful- It’s hard to remain hopeful when life isn’t going how you planned. Try to visualize what you want or write it down as a goal that you can reach with small efforts everyday. Expect that good things are going to happen, good things are coming your way.
  • Sleep, exercise, and nutrition- The triple threat. By taking time to feed your body what it needs, it can be better equipped to respond to high levels of stress.
  • Do an activity you enjoy- Make time during your week to be fully present in an activity that you like. This can be anything from reading a book, playing or listening to music, visiting with friends, journaling, or anything else that is a positive outlet for you.
  • Reach out! If you feel that you are unable to cope or just need someone to listen, please reach out to your school counselors, administrators, or a trusted person in your life.
  • Smart Phone Apps for Wellness- WYSA, Calm Fear, Action for Happiness, Iona-Mind Guided Self Care, Calm App, Headspace for Educators, Mindfulness Coach, and Simple Habit.
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