Rising From The Ashes: Resilience In An Age Of Uncertainty
"You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may cut me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I will rise."
-Maya Angelou, Still I Rise
Taking a sip of coffee from my cup, as I finished reading this poem, I felt warmth in the pit of my stomach. The warmth not from the hot coffee, but a sense of sanguine comfort that came after reading these words.
It is very easy to feel disheartened after a setback but what is not easy is facing a challenge head-on. When I think about resilience, an image of a phoenix rising from the ashes comes to my mind, showing how mental toughness is essential to evolve.
How Do We Adapt To Change And Evolve In Such Trying Times?
This has become a prevalent question these days when the whole world is battling with the pandemic and its repercussions on mental health. As people are transitioning from the pre-COVID-19 state to the post-COVID-19 state, they see a lot of potential vulnerabilities ahead of them.
“When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.”
This befitting paradigm by Jaeda Dewalt should be our approach to take this situation in stride. But what does psychological resilience actually mean? What should be our outlook to withstand difficult situations?
Resilience or mental toughness is the ability to adapt to setbacks or misfortunes, without dwelling on problems, or feeling victimized or overwhelmed. It is the ability to cope up with a critical situation whilst remaining calm and composed. Global statistics on mental health were stark prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Depression already affected 264 million people worldwide, and those with severe mental conditions are estimated to die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.
6 Ways through which We can Build Mental Resilience in These Unprecedented Times:
It is very important to have self-awareness in order to build psychological health. It can be improved when we monitor self-talk. Saying STOP after a negative thought can act as a platform to halt a train of thought and follow it with more positive and helpful self-talk. Introspecting about our strengths and weaknesses is also a great way to build mental resilience. It is important to seek validation from ourselves before taking feedback from others.
Establishing A Purpose
Self-assurance is very important to build our mental health, but what is more important is having a go-getter attitude to achieve everything in life. Even something as simple as making a to-do list and writing our goals down can boost our mental strength. It is the granular things that matter. Ticking off even one thing in your bucket list can make you have more faith in yourself. Also, there will be no room for negative thoughts in your mind!
Dealing with Stress
In a study conducted by The Mental Health Foundation of the UK, it was discovered that 51% of the adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and the rest of them said that their stress transitioned to anxiety.
So how should one manage stress? Some of the most frequently cited sources of stress include; Money, work, relationships, family responsibilities, and even the economy. Stress stems from comparisons. That is why the key to stress management is to stop making comparisons. Exercising, listening to music, and spending time with the people you love are deemed to be the best stress-busters.
Learning From Mistakes And Being Tenacious
It is extremely crucial to never give up and to take your setbacks with a pinch of salt. We should never block our emotions even in the face of adversities. We need to accept our mistakes and view failure as an opportunity to grow and improve, and not a reason to give up.
It is imperative to channelize the negative energy into the feeling of persistence and unwavering positivity. Do not dampen your spirits with the words of naysayers.
Adapting to Change
It is important to have a proper perspective without losing sight of what you need to accomplish. It is important to develop the readiness for change to build mental strength. Flexibility in difficult situations motivates people to withstand them and come up as a winner.
Moreover, in order to detach yourself from negativity, you need to stay away from the ‘victim mentality’. When people stop wasting their time on pondering about WHY ME, they actually become ready to embrace change.
Control & Contentment
In order to be resilient, avoid giving away your power to others. You are in control of your actions and emotions; your strength is in your ability to manage the way you respond to what is happening to them. Mentally tough people tend to stay away from emotions like envy and find gratitude even in the smallest things. Remember, your happiness is not reliant on the acquisition of any possession. Your happiness is based solely on your decision to be happy.
You may also read: Resources to Unlock the Mental Lockdown, with a Community that Cares
Mantras and Mental Exercises
Here are some mantras and mental exercises that have worked for a lot of people while battling issues like anxiety, and have built the path to a resilient and relaxed mind:
From PTSD to PTG
It is important to have the metamorphosis Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Post Traumatic Growth.
Permit yourself to be human. Embracing our emotions from within before communicating it to others is extremely important.
It is absolutely fine to cry out aloud and let it all go instead of bottling it up inside and latching on to negative emotions.
Communicating with people about it is essential as well. If you can’t talk to family or friends about your thoughts you can write them down in a journal or even talk about them on platforms like Now&Me to empower yourself.
Do not repress or reject your emotions as they resurface and become more rigorous. Blocking your negative thoughts is never the right thing to do.
Peter Drucker’s 3 R’s of Change
Peter Drucker was one of the most influential thinkers on management, whose work continues to be used by managers worldwide. These are the 3 R’s of change by him that can help in building a resilient mind:
Reminders: The first step to becoming mentally tough is achieving our goals whether they are big or small. Setting reminders is the initial way to accomplish them. Writing them down, making memos, telling your friends about it are a few ways to do that.
Repetitions: Even a small thing like doing exercise every day for half an hour can become a habit if reminders change to repetitions. When this happens our mind becomes accustomed to good practices and habits.
Rituals: The final step to inculcate and ingrain change is turning our habits into rituals. When this happens, no setback in your life can distract you from the road to mental well-being and success.
It is very difficult to not get bogged down by setbacks, especially when we are fighting a pandemic today. But it is not impossible to build anti-fragility, or in other words, trying to escape the cocoon of negative thoughts.
Bouncing back after difficult situations is not easy but it is important to be kind to yourself and other people. Give yourself re-assurance through words.
Listen to your body and mind. Heed to the message when they speak to you. Physical exercise is essential for mental well-being.
Always remember- This too shall pass. You can’t be mentally tough if you don’t learn how to be calm in unprecedented times.
When I feel low or downcast this precept by Mark Victor Hansen gives me a lot of strength and courage to fight my demons:
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful.”
I know it sounds great in theory but it is difficult to inculcate this in our lives. But mental resilience is all about having strong will-power. Argue with your limitations, challenge yourself, and be curious always. Communicating and talking about your emotions is very important because we all fight different battles daily and we have to learn from the experience of others.
Now&Me is a platform that works to build a community where people can talk about their experiences, share their failures and have conversations about their good or bad days because communication is the first step towards being resilient. Always know that it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.
Love yourself. Don't quit doing something that you love. And most importantly, rise from the ashes like a phoenix by taking your setbacks in stride!!!
Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi