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How Can We Build Resiliency In a Crisis?

As mental health becomes a more widely discussed topic, so does the terminology that surrounds mental health struggles. Certain words or phrases such as “self-care” or “resilience” have become click-bait without the actual understanding of what they mean. In this blog post, I’ll discuss resiliency, what it is, why it’s important and how we can build more of it within ourselves.  

“Resilience is the capacity of a person, community, family or economy to adapt successfully to challenge.” Based on this definition, it’s easy to see why the idea of resiliency has been widely discussed during the Covid-19 pandemic. If a global pandemic isn’t a challenge we’ve needed to adapt to, I’m not sure what else would qualify. To be human is to have some level of resiliency. We all have some degree of resilience within us that we rely on and utilize throughout our lives. Much of resiliency is based on perspective and action. If we can foster a positive mindset about the future, we’re better able to get through challenging times in the present. Utilizing humor is important as well. Bringing laughter into situations can help shift our mindsets. If we try new activities, put ourselves out there and are eager to learn, it can show us we’re able to grow and adapt. Working to cultivate a positive mindset, along with engaging in activities that make us feel empowered, are great ways to develop resiliency. 

While we can work to foster resiliency on our own, the core rests fundamentally on the relationships people have in their lives. Research has shown that children who are the most resilient tend to have stronger relationships with caregivers that they trusted. In addition, “children who experience the most success and mental resilience usually had strong mentoring, one strong parent, an important teacher or some strong social connections.” Relationships matter. The people in our lives make a substantial different. Human beings inherently need and thrive from social relationships and supports. We need each other at the most basic level. Research has proven, what matters most in the development of resilience is how an individual interacts with their family, their community, their spiritual community and the larger society surrounding them. While much of the conversation around resiliency refers to self-care as a tool become more resilient, all too often the importance of social supports and relationships are left out of the conversation. 

Knowing the importance of social supports, we must acknowledge how challenging it can be to strengthen our support networks. If the opportunity presents itself for you to meet with (virtually or in person) like-minded individuals, I highly recommend jumping at the opportunity. Spending time with people who can directly relate to what you’re going through and experiencing can be a very cathartic and healing experience. We are all living in a time where how we used to function has been completely changed. Whether you’re a parent, working from home while your kids are doing remote learning, a teacher attempting to educate through a screen, a front-line worker, or someone who’s job went from in person to remote overnight, we could all use some extra support and understanding right now. Speaking to someone that can directly relate to what you’re experiencing is very helpful. Creating a group with people that you work with, finding individuals through Facebook or LinkedIn, or reaching out through various connections are all great ways to begin facilitating this communication. It may seem silly or awkward at first, but it’s human nature to crave connection. When needed, take a moment to remind yourself the person on the other end of your message is likely craving connection too. 

If you’ve found yourself struggling to manage your emotions or build resiliency in this ongoing crisis, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists in Chicago today!

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