Life = change. We all experience transitions, and right now there’s a big one we’re all involved in, in the form of a global pandemic. The invisibility of the virus makes it everywhere and nowhere at the same time. None of us can opt out. It is also a reminder that life is continuously in motion and we are perpetually adapting to new environments, experiences, people and situations.
How can you grow resilience in times of change? And, if you increase resilience, can you lower your risk for anxiety and depression? Resilience exists when we are able to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, increased life stressors, and tragedy. Though your environment and genes might influence your level of resilience, the amount isn’t set in stone. Practicing different ways of thinking and being in the world can boost your ability to navigate change, and help you create a life that is adaptive to new places and unexpected events. Following are a few healthy practices for increasing your level of resilience and coping with change.
Accept What’s Out of Your Control
Rather than focus on blaming others or moving the unmovable, resilient people set their sights on what they can influence. To evaluate your level of influence on a situation, you can ask yourself, “What can I take responsibility for in this situation?” And “How can I be part of the solution?” If something is outside your control practice the concept of Radical Acceptance. Radical acceptance is about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. You don’t have to agree with what is happening, like it, or condone it, you just accept it as it is.
Maintain Connections in the Face of Fear
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek support and camaraderie among friends, family, and colleagues.
Focus on Your Strengths
You can generate more positive thoughts when you take the time to explore your strengths. What would your partner, your friend, or your parent say that you are good at? What do you choose to do when nobody is looking? What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in life? What’s one quality you like about yourself? By focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, you will feel empowered to meet what lies ahead. Create and find some space to nudge your thinking towards openness and flexibility, allow for input from those who see you at a distance. You may be surprised at what you uncover.
Arrive in the Present
If you’re not sure how to slow down your mind, practicing relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness or deep breathing, can help you feel more in control of your brain and how you evaluate a major change. If you find your thoughts are in the future or that you are ruminating on past memories, to bring yourself back to the present, try taking some deep breaths, or focusing on external sensations. Name five things you can see, touch, hear, taste or smell. Set aside time every day to relax in ways that are meaningful to you.
Embrace the Unknown
Some of the most resilient people see change as an opportunity. Transitions in life allow you to consider where your priorities lie. How do you really want to spend your time on earth? What’s really important to you? Where do you see yourself wasting your time and energy? Take time to uncover your values and how they are playing out in your life now. You can’t avoid change, but you can live a life filled with meaning. You can embrace transition and see challenges as opportunities to thrive.
Consider speaking with a counselor or other mental health professional if you feel you need extra support or new tools during transition.