Since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably been experiencing a ton of emotions – some familiar, some unfamiliar. Fear, anxiety, and grief are common emotions right now, and it may feel like building resilience is just wishful thinking.
You’re also probably spending more time with the people you live with than you’re used to, which presents its own set of challenges (Not used to having the kiddos at home? Trying to work from your couch without getting distracted by your partner’s amazingness? Puppy dog eyes calling to you?…is it just me?).
And with a lot of the world on some form of lockdown right now, the options for distracting ourselves from these challenging situations and feelings are even slimmer.
We are being forced to slow down and actually be with ourselves, our thoughts, and emotions, and to strip away our distractions and the layers of identity we created that depended on things outside of ourselves.
We are being asked to surrender to an unknown process and outcome for an unknown amount of time, and this understandably can create fear.
We are being shown what our samskaras (attachments) are, and are being given the opportunity to practice sankalpa – living intentionally. Without the material and social attachments we are used to, we are given the opportunity to be really focused and purposeful in how we spend our time and where we put our energy.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that we are all feeling different levels of difficult emotions, and maybe all we can do is just be with these feelings. And that’s 100% ok! I myself have spent the last few weeks getting really acquainted with my anxiety, and eating way too much comfort (aka junk) foods, staying up too late, and watching way too much TV.
But the whole time I was dealing with this, I made the commitment to be fully present to whatever I was feeling, and to acknowledge that this was just temporary. I gave myself permission to feel as scared as I wanted to feel, and to deal with that fear however I wanted to – whether it was by revisiting some old, unhealthy habits, or by doing practices like yoga nidra, meditation, EFT tapping, and aromatherapy.
Because I’ve been through a lot of tough stuff in my life, I knew that eventually I’d bounce back and be able to live from a more grounded and intentional place. While I haven’t ever dealt with a pandemic like this before, I have faith that the same things that have gotten me through those unexpected situations in my past (leaving an abusive relationship, Hurricane Harvey, dealing with a chronic illness…just to name a few) will get me through this too.
I knew that I have the resilience it takes to come out of this situation stronger than I was before.
And I know that you do, too! I want to help you build your resilience muscles so that you can not only survive this crazy time we’re living in, but you can thrive. And you’ll also be able to use these techniques and tools when life throws you other curveballs – because we all know that it will.
We’re going to dive deeply into what resilience is and isn’t, consider the role spirituality can play in the development of resilience, and I’ll share 10 of my favorite ways to strengthen our resilience muscles so we can tap into this awesome power whenever we need it. Let’s go!
What is Resilience?
According to dictionary.com, resilience is your ability to quickly recover from life’s difficulties. It’s about finding a way to rise despite the odds stacked against you and being able to transcend hardship through optimism, emotional regulation, and problem-solving.
Think about the last time you dealt with something really tough, like a breakup, a job loss, the loss of a loved one, or a serious illness. You can reflect on those experiences and the things that helped you deal with them, knowing that you’ve got tools in your emotional arsenal to help you better deal with similar situations in the future.
Sometimes, we build resilience by default. But by actively seeking ways to cope that help us in a sustainable and intentional way, we become co-creators in our lives. We empower ourselves to make the most of these difficult situations and can become an example to others who are struggling as well.
What Resilience is NOT
Resilience is not the same as denial of problems or the avoidance of struggle. While each of these coping mechanisms has its place in the process of emotional growth and maturity, if we want to practice resilience, the first step is acknowledging the reality we are experiencing.
This isn’t about being pessimistic or adopting a “woe is me” attitude, it’s about being 100% present and seeing things as they really are. Only then can we do what it takes to rise above these challenges.
The other important thing to know about resilience is that It is not inherent but developed. This means that everyone has the ability to develop and strengthen their resilience, not just a lucky few. No matter what you’ve been through or how you’ve dealt with it, you always have the opportunity to start facing your struggles with resiliency.
How Can Spirituality Help Build Resilience?
One thing that has definitely helped me maintain resiliency in my life is my spiritual practice. Having a daily spiritual practice helps you maintain integrity during adversity, allows you to stay grounded in the present moment, and helps you to learn from your challenges.
Having a spiritual practice helps build your connection to something bigger than yourself, and restores your hope – which is crucial in practicing resiliency, especially in times like these.
10 More Ways to Develop Your Resilience
Below are some of my favorite ways to develop and strengthen resilience. For a step-by-step guide to the first 5 practices, download The Resilience Toolkit below the list.
- Free-form Journaling –
- By writing stream-of-conscious about your fears and concerns, you can better process and confront your feelings, and foster a greater sense of perspective and control by creating our own narrative.
- Metta Meditation –
- When you practice this Buddhist meditation on sending loving-kindness to yourself and others, you enhance your ability to approach each moment and situation with compassion, allowing you to experience more love and peace.
- Body Scan Meditation –
- This practice is especially helpful in times of stress or physical tension. We gently focus on the discomfort and allow ourselves to stay present with it without being overcome by it. We also strengthen the response of our parasympathetic nervous system, bringing a sense of calmness, and decrease the “fight or flight” response that our sympathetic nervous system creates.
- Breathwork –
- Like the Body Scan Meditation, breathwork helps facilitate the response of the parasympathetic nervous system. In the yogic tradition, the practice is known as prāṇāyāma, prāṇā being breath or life-force, and āyāma being the suspension or control of the breath. When we mindfully direct our breath towards a certain rhythm and goal, we are able to cultivate present-moment-awareness and strengthen our ability to remain calm in difficult situations.
- EFT Tapping –
- EFT Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique, can be used to help rewire our brains to be less reactionary to stressors and thereby develop our resilience. This is also a great way to connect with Spirit, which I talk more about in this blog post.
- Spend Time Connecting With Others –
- Even virtual hangouts count! As often as you can, try to connect with people who are on a similar journey to yours to get and offer the support needed to navigate difficult times. I created a free Facebook Group just for this purpose!
- Take Care of Your Physical Needs –
- Eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep and physical activity are all important ways to nurture our physical resilience, as well as our emotional resilience. When our body is operating at its best, it’s easier to do the inner work that will move us towards our goals.
- Give Back –
- Look for ways you can help your community to foster connection, self-worth, and to remind you that we’re all in this together. Whether that’s making financial donations, reading online to kids, or sewing facemasks, every opportunity to support others during challenging times matters.
- Be Proactive –
- When you’re able, consider how you can use your struggles for self-development. Even if you can’t change your current circumstance, how can you improve upon your strengths to empower yourself to come out of this situation better than before?
- Seek Help When Needed –
- Whether from a licensed professional, a trusted family member or friend, or a leader in your faith tradition, reaching out when we feel stuck and gaining a new perspective from others can be pivotal in helping us to build our resilience and gain the motivation we need to move forward.
Resilience is an Everyday Practice
You don’t need a major life event like a pandemic to practice resilience. It’s something we can do every day that will help us in the moments of chaos and stress. By doing any of the previously mentioned methods regularly, we create a storehouse of resilience we can tap into when we need it.
Whether you choose to incorporate one or all of the resilience-strengthening methods above, I truly hope that they help you navigate through these tough times with a little more joy and ease. If so, I’d love to hear about it, so be sure to leave me a comment!
Until next time,