The world is starting to open up again, so why do we still feel depressed?
A recent study shared by the CDC showed a marked increase in Americans who experienced anxiety, apathy, and hopelessness during lockdown, and the trend continued into 2021 despite vaccinations and the world slowly reopening. But the good news is that research on resilience indicates that we will bounce back from the trauma of the pandemic faster than it may seem.
That’s because our minds are designed to adapt to difficult situations—from big events like a global pandemic to smaller moments like blowing a big audition. We get emotional, we may even be traumatized, but in most circumstances, we’re able to keep going.
Look, I get it. It’s easy to become reactive to what is happening around us, especially when what’s happening feels completely out of our hands. Maybe you didn’t book a job or land a new client. Maybe your car broke down or your computer crashed.
Instantly, we feel rejected or disappointed in ourselves. We should have known better, done better. We get completely wrapped up in our feelings like there is no end in sight. “There’s nothing I can do about it now. It’s out of my hands…”
Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker, author and psychotherapist disagrees, “Everyone has the ability to increase resilience to stress. It requires hard work and dedication, but over time, you can equip yourself to handle whatever life throws your way without adverse effects on your health. Training your brain to manage stress won’t just affect the quality of your life, but perhaps even the length of it.”
So, resilience is a skill you can nurture just like any other. If you’re ready to ditch the drama and toughen up your mental know-how, here are 6 ways to get started building your resilience.
1) Cut Yourself Some Slack
Self-compassion is an important key to building your resilience. It’s not about giving yourself a permanent “Get Out of Jail Free” card whenever you mess up though. Instead, it’s about being gentle with yourself when you make a mistake and resisting the urge to pass judgment.
Treat yourself like you would your best friend if they came to you with the same situation. You’d treat them with kindness and seek to build them back up, not tear them down.
Give yourself permission to say, “I’m disappointed about this.” “This is hard.” “This is scary.” These feelings are valid, but they are also fleeting. Remind yourself that they will pass.
As creative people, our passion for our work can often lead us to also be our own worst critic. So if you need a little help learning to give yourself a break in tough situations, check out my Judgement Detox.
2) Maintain A Network of Support
Strong social bonds are the backbone of resilience. After all, we can’t do it alone, can we? One study on trauma recovery showed that social support strengthens our resilience by increasing self-esteem and our sense of control.
That’s particularly helpful when we feel lost after a crisis. It can remind you that you’re not alone and counter negative self-talk that makes you feel like there is something wrong with you for feeling sad or upset.
So be sure to prioritize your relationships, even the long-distance ones. Pick up the phone and catch up. Plan regular outings now that summer has arrived. Show your loved ones you care and that you’re available when they need a shoulder to cry on too. Lasting relationships are a give and take.
3) Incorporate Mindfulness Techniques
If you have a hard time sharing your deepest feelings with other people, you can find similar relief through journaling. Reflective journaling has been shown to improve emotional stamina, by helping us recognize emotional patterns and behaviors we may not have seen without taking a step back to reflect.
Researchers have also discovered that when we articulate gratitude, “the two areas of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and memory, the amygdala and the hippocampus” are activated. So over time, a daily gratitude practice will help you feel more content, even in the face of adversity.
I also think mindfulness is a smart and simple way to pull your focus away from what’s not working right now and on to all the wonderful elements still present in your life.
4) Focus On Your Future
Speaking of focus, setting and striving for goals is another way to build up your resilience. Just make sure they are S.M.A.R.T, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
When you activate your inner drive, you have a positive anchor for your thoughts and actions to revolve around. This makes it easier to reframe how you perceive setbacks, like not getting a callback or having a bad set on set.
5) Get Regular Exercise
Achieving your fitness goals is an apt parallel for how you build the skill of resilience, slow and steady, with daily increments of movement.
Your physical health is just as important as your mental well-being. If you’re not taking care of your body if you’re chronically sick or fatigued, how can you expect to handle a crisis without creating a second one? 😉
When we feel strong and energized, we exercise better judgment and manage our emotions better, which is so helpful when weathering a proverbial storm. Even if you can’t get to the gym for a full workout, incorporate a little movement, like a walk or a stretching session, into your day.
6) Reduce Your Stress
I know I’ve said it before, but there is so much noise out in the world. It’s easy to get swept up in it. To reduce your stress though, avoid those negative outlets that cause you stress.
This could be social media, alcohol, drugs, junk food, or even too much TV. These temporary escapes only damage your resilience by preventing you from working through your feelings. They ultimately extend your suffering.
So lay off the “comfort foods” and give your body something it really craves, like a good night’s rest! Sleep cleanses and refreshes your brain – helping you make better decisions and stay flexible for whatever life throws your way.
How are you feeling lately? Have you ever thought about what it takes to build up resilience? Fill me in on how you’re doing in the comments below or in the Badass Beauty Club on Facebook.
LOVE + better days ahead!