Written By: Stacia Casillo, PsyD
It is important to acknowledge the universal psychological, physical, and cognitive impact from the chronic stress caused by the pandemic. We are all reassessing and recalibrating our “new normal” whether it is for work, school, religious observation, or socialization to name only a few activities. Many of us are doing this with reduced resources, whether financial or logistical, while unable to engage in our normal stress relieving outlets like the gym and social gatherings. Now more than ever it is important to be engaging in healthy coping to help manage our stress as well as boost our resilience.
Resilience is often defined as the ability to overcome and recover from adversity. A person who is resilient can “bounce back” from a hardship and is able to move forward and flourish. While genetics, early environment, and life factors all contribute to how resilient a person is, there are ways we can all augment our protective factors to boost resilience. Furthermore, by strengthening our resilience we improve our ability to manage the stress and anxiety many of us are feeling as we transition into the next phase of our “new normal”, whether that’s returning to work where there are new rules, regulations, or precautions, or school and new modes of instruction, or engaging in more frequent social interactions.
So how do we strengthen our resilience?
- Utilize your Social Support Network. Make a point of calling or Facetiming with your friends and family. These are the people who love and care about you. They help normalize and validate your experience. Now more than ever we need to feel connected to people.
- Prioritize your Physical Well-being. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and good sleep are all connected to better psychological, physical, and cognitive functioning and health.
- Engage in Mindfulness Practice. Mindfulness is the act of being present. You can do it anyplace, anytime, anywhere. You are simply being an observer of what is happening in you (thoughts, feelings, and sensations) as well as your surroundings. The goal is to be present and observe without judgement (judgement leads to negative emotions!).
- Practice Gratitude- With all that is occurring in the world, many of us are focused on all the negative that is occurring and we minimize what is good in our lives. It is important to take time and really focus on things in your life that you are grateful for and that bring you happiness and joy. Practicing gratitude can be done individually or as a family.
- Discover your purpose. Purpose has been linked to better coping, psychological health, and physical health. It is a very personalized journey but you can begin by knowing your values and thinking about ways you can help and support others. Writing a daily intention is a great place to start.
As many of us take steps to transition back into “real life”; we may feel overwhelmed and unsure how to cope with all the uncertainty. The skills listed above will enhance your coping abilities and help you feel more confident in your ability to handle adversity. Remember, history has shown that humans are a remarkably resilient group.
To learn more about coping strategies during this uncertain time of reopening, register for Dr. Casillo’s Webinar: Coping with the Stress of Reopening: A 1 Hour Webinar to Help You Adjust to the “New Normal”