Resilience: The Mental Shield

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By the Counselling Department

The global response to COVID -19 has changed daily life for many people, in addition to being a source of stress and adversity for them. To overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 and its related traumas, it is important that we all build and strengthen our resilience.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the process of positive adaptation, withstanding or doing well in the face of adversity. It is the alleviation of suffering and the deliberate choice to have a balance between negative experiences (bad outcomes) and positive experiences with the choice of allowing oneself to lean more on the positives in life despite the challenges. It is also the ability to maintain relatively stable and healthy levels of psychological and physical functioning despite the adversity.

What people need to be resilient

To counter balance hardships in life and shield yourself from difficult times, there are core skills in life that one needs to be able to adapt, find solutions and therefore bounce back from the challenges, physically and psychologically ready to move on with life. These include:

  • Managing different sources of stress: Seek help in the management of stress, anxiety, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.

  • Managing your finances through prioritizing basic needs and connecting the larger family (siblings, extended family) if not in a position to support them, to programs that support with provision of basic needs.

  • Students with financial challenges can apply for financial assistance either within school or with supporting organizations in the community or home country e.g. HELB.

  • Work towards better outcomes for children’s healthy brains and bodies. In the family, provide a stable, positive, supportive, responsive and stimulating environment

    - For children provide coloring books, crayon, makers, word searches, puzzles, books, craft supplies). Take the time to play with the children and teach them coping and adaptive life skills.

    - For adolescents, provide them with the right experiences and support, train them on resisting peer pressure, focus on long term goals and strategically planning for the future, dealing productively with setbacks and managing school work at this time of lockdown and school closure.

  • Balance between the home environment (parenting, marriage, family support) and work load demands by enhancing essential skills to manage life, work and relationships. Plan well to be able to balance work/school/family and time for self-care. You can use reminders or checklists.

  • Keep checking in with family, workmates and friends via phone, video chat, WhatsApp among other online apps. Be patient, have compassion and empathy as you relate with others who are different from you.

  • Self-care is very important, take time when not working to get plenty of rest and reach out for counseling whenever you are overwhelmed by an issue.

  • Adapt to the changing situations; accept change, look out for opportunities and work with realistic goals.

  • Give your time, attention and effort to the positive and not the negative side of the resilience scale.

  • Strengthen your life skills;

    - Resist impulsive behavior through self-regulation skills (self-control) so that you are able to plan, monitor, adjust and regulate your behavior. Learn to say no to yourself when alone or with people (say no to negative coping skills e.g. alcohol and drug abuse, distractions or temptations and negative thinking).

    - Follow and adjust flexibly to the different rules and guidelines for protection against contracting or transmission of COVID -19 and other infectious diseases.

  • Purpose to focus more on a positive outlook for the future, be mindful or conscious of the present moment as we prepare for and hope for a better future.

    Remember, you are the architect of your life and you can make it stronger and better in the “new normal” where we have to learn to live with the virus.

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