How we cope or endure the dramatic changes in life requires practical approaches. Whether it is the contagion of pandemic and the collective anxiety it has generated or disaster displacement to personal setbacks or sorrows, we need to harness our inner strength to rebound. Considering that toxic emotions keep us away from the right priorities during distress, we need to build resilience.
This ability steers our creativity and clarity of thoughts to make smart, informed choices from mental fatigue, fear, or panic in times of tribulations.
No matter what has happened, the impact can begin all the way physiologically to our minds and become chronic. The term “Allostatic Load” refers to extreme harm to our overall wellbeing. It occurs when demand on our internal resources exceeds our capacity. Hence the fear puts excessive pressure on our capabilities and resources, resulting in poor decision-making and burnout.
So how do we get back stability and build mental resilience? Let’s start with a Buddhist parable of the second arrow.
The Buddha once asked a student: “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful? If the person is struck by a second arrow, is it even more painful?” He then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.”
Here are a few suggestions to restore physical and mental strength by building resilience:
- First, calm your mind – Take notice of your thoughts, especially when they running away towards apocalyptic scenarios. Focus on one positive fact: “it is marvelous that I am safe at my home” versus the bad news. You can also use mindfulness apps such as Headspace or be mindful in support of your initiative to unhook the negative emotion.
- Connect with your moral compass. Resilient people are guided by compassion, have a solid sense of fairness, and consider right and wrong.
- Believe in something greater than yourself to give you courage and strength – for instance, “a life purpose or a mission.”
- Engage in philanthropic activities.
- Accept that you cannot change what has happened, but you can focus on what you can change.
- Identify meaningful wisdom in the dire experience
- Create a social support system with individuals who have a positive outlook in life and a nurturing spirit.
On a final note, a good diet and regular exercise to boost our good health should be part of our daily life.
Feature image by Kierstin Young