By Audra Wallace, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor
Last week my husband, a history teacher, received word on Thursday night that by Monday every school in the district would be expected to deliver their classes online. In a panic my husband looked at me and said, “I’m going to need your help… I haven’t had to build my class curriculum from scratch in 20 years!” My part in helping my husband, was to build the virtual classrooms and load the curriculum and assignments for the first week and his part was to communicate with over 100 students and their parents. . . Share with them how to connect to their classrooms and how to get access to technology if they did not have their own tech. By Sunday night at 11pm, all of my husband’s 5 separate classes were built and had curriculum and assignments. The most interesting part of helping my husband was the curriculum. The Worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II 1940s are profoundly correlated with what is happening now with the war against Covid-19. While creating the curriculum, I read about a journalist, Victor Hanson, whose father was an air force gunner during the war. He sums up the characteristics of the Greatest Generation in this way. He wrote, it was “a can-do generation who believed that they did not need to be perfect to be good enough. Miscalculations and follies were not blame-gamed or endlessly litigated, but were instead seen as tragic setbacks on the otherwise inevitable trajectory to victory. Perseverance and its twin, courage, were the most important of all collective virtues,” he concludes. It struck me that we can learn a lot from the Greatest Generation about RESILIENCE.
During the Covid-19 time of uncertainty and economic hardship, it is easy to become fearful, anxious and extra emotional. Resilience is an important mechanism that can protect us against becoming overwhelmed. Resilience can help us to gain and maintain balance, as well. Studies have shown that the biggest factor in overcoming difficult times is RESILIENCE. The Greatest Generation called it perseverance. It is the ability to bounce back and to endure hardships. Psychologists have identified factors that make a person more resilient as, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as helpful feedback. Some people are naturally resilient. You know, those people who are always positive and have unwavering optimism. If you don’t happen to be naturally resilient or you are not a member of the Greatest Generation, what can you do to build your resilience now?
Here are some ideas:
1. Focus on What You Can Control
Not just during the Covid crisis but always, the only thing that you have control over is you. You are in control of what you say think and do. Focus on what makes you the best version of you. Avoid blowing things out of proportion focus on the facts and avoid emotional reactivity. Don’t think and speak negatively. Do exercise, eat well, get rest and hydrate. . . with water.
2. Practice Acceptance of Self
Think about how you view yourself. Self-acceptance is an affirmation of self, including your weaknesses or limitations. Stop judging and accept all of you, unconditionally. This requires self-compassion. We rarely judge others as harshly as we judge ourselves. As my father would say, “don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” Sanitize guilt and shame by accepting that we are all human. The perspective that we are all human helps inspire self-kindness and goodwill toward self.
3. Reframe, Reframe, Reframe
If you were to ask my clients, reframing is my favorite resilience strategy. Reframing is the ability to alter your point of view about a negative circumstance to a point of view that allows you to recognize and appreciate positive aspects of the situation. We can't change the fact that negative things happen, but we can change how we interpret them. Look past the present situation to imagine how future circumstances might improve because of it. Reframing also teaches us to sit with our uncomfortable feelings and negative circumstances while we learn to trust that good results can come from negative events and suffering.
4. Connect and Communicate
Relationships are a human need. With social distancing we are challenged to get creative in how we communicate. Be mindful of how technology limits our ability to convey our full meaning without body language and tone of voice. Being empathetic and compassionate toward others helps us do the same for ourselves. Accepting help and support from caring for others actually strengthens your resilience. Laughing in the face of adversity is a great stress reliever. This is my favorite stress reliever. Laugh hard and laugh often.
5. Be Forward Thinking and Set some Goals
Visualize what you want rather than worry about what you fear. Write down some realistic goals. Goals can be as short term as daily, weekly, monthly. Do something daily that moves you toward accomplishing your goal. Ask yourself, “What is one thing I can do today that helps me move toward my goal.” Write it down and make it specific. Writing it down accomplishes two things: 1. Your goal is more real in writing and 2. Writing gets things out of your head which allows you to stop ruminating and start doing. We have more time on our hands, let’s get creative.
The Covid-19 world war challenges our mental fitness. Resiliency mental fitness is accomplished the same way that physical fitness is accomplished. Use the muscle often and it will grow strong. I’ll be sharing more tips regularly, for resilence, stress reduction, and overall mental health. Keep an eye out for regular updates.
“Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do.”
– Robert H. Schuller
As we all are being challenged in new ways and struggling as we manage the daily changes during the Covid-19 Crisis, please remember that our team of professional counselors at Coherence Associates, are here for you and with you! We are fully operational with our confidential Telehealth services, it’s easier than you think. Please reach out, you are not alone, and we are here to help. Please call at 760-942-8663.