Unprecedented. Yep, that’s about it. Let’s think about what’s been unprecedented in the past eight or nine months.
- COVID pandemic and the associated economic and jobless numbers
- Ongoing social justice marches involving people of all races and ages, in reaction to police killings
- 600+ fires in California due to exceptional lightning storms
- Americans locked out of other countries because we’re viewed as the disease vectors
- Murder hornets
It almost seems like the ten plagues in the book of Exodus!
Daily articles report the number of Americans suffering from anxiety and depression. It’s no wonder; it’s easy to feel like we’re in a dark hole that’s just getting deeper.
We know the world will not go “back to normal” in the next six months.
What to do? Call on your old friend, resilience.
We all have it. Some have more than others, but we all have some in us. Who got you to move on when your parents divorced? Resilience. When your dad passed away? Resilience. And when you lost the “love of your life” to your best friend? Resilience.
What is resilience?
It’s the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty or challenges of any kind and (hopefully) come back stronger, wiser, and more empowered.
How do you build it?
There are thousands of books and articles on how to build resilience, written by people with lots of good credentials. Just Google it.
I’ll tell you what has helped me. (As a person who has survived multiple recurrences of life-threatening pancreatic cancer and one bad encounter with colon cancer, my resilience credentials are pretty good.)
- Love yourself. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Eat well, laugh, go to sleep at a decent time, play, and exercise. Be gentle with yourself. Be proud of who you are as a human being, not just as a partner, sister, daughter, or employee.
- Take one day at a time and avoid the what-ifs. What-ifs usually are negative, rarely positive.
- Focus on what you’re grateful for, not what you don’t have. For example, maybe you’ve just been laid off. But you have a loving partner. Maybe you can’t travel to see your mother in Germany. But you can still run outdoors and enjoy nature.
- Live each day as happy as you can—in that day. Today may not be one of the happiest in your life but, provided the givens, how can you make it a decent day? For example, let’s say air quality is an unhealthy 160. Stay indoors and have your own dance party! Dance and jump like a kid—unencumbered.
- Compartmentalize. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the woes of the world. Focus on one of them at a time. Or if that’s still too big, take a big break and stay inside your bubble. Immerse yourself in some healing, calming, or creative activity. Draw, exercise hard, binge-watch, make a multi-step dessert…the news usually does not change that dramatically from day-to-day. It will be there tomorrow, if you want to engage.
- Share one thing that was good about your day with someone, or record it in a journal. It may be very small—maybe you saw a lady bug on a flower in your backyard, or your morning cup of coffee was exceptional.
One last thing: they say that if you force yourself to smile, you’ll actually feel better. Try it!