Build Resilience In Challenging Times

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 

Non-Striving – Foundation of Mindfulness # 5

One of the pillars of mindfulness meditation is based on non-striving. An attitude that helps us disconnect our energy & emotions to the outcome of a task at hand or a pursuit. What it means is that the only thing worth striving for is to be in the moment. Like in a meditative state, you seek to stay calm and reach the highest point of being; the non-striving approach shifts your focus from the result to the action.

The idea is not to abandon your desires and goals in life. On the contrary, it is about you pushing that boulder up the hill and not looking at the peak of the mountain but have your eyes on the rock while using your energy to push it forward. Recognizing that you and your diligent efforts are good enough, no matter the outcome.

 

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Igor Morski Art

Nike’s slogan “Just do it!” is the perfect example of a mental state that has set a goal, is fully immersed in the performance, and is not controlled by the result. To give you a clear image of how to practice a non-striving attitude is to partner your goals to your intentions. Let’s say you have set a goal to complete a project at work by a particular time. Now, if you integrate your goal to expand your knowledge and nurture your team, then the stress will be reduced, challenges will be seen as opportunities, and the exchange of ideas and support will be welcomed. The reason is that intentions within you set the tone to move towards your goals and life in general. Once you are clear about your intentions, the focus on the course of action will drive you to do your best without anxiety or stressing over the unknown future.

Non-striving takes patience and a non-judging mindset. Every day choose an activity to loosen the grip to an outcome. For example, you go for a walk every day to lose 10 pounds. The goal is clear; now add the intention to enjoy the scenery and greet everyone you meet along the way. Pay close attention to your body and emotions when tension arises every time you think about your goal, and when you let go of the outcome. The exercise will cultivate the strength to detach and learn the non-doing attitude.

On the final note, the ability to stay focused is the driver to reach your goals. Never allow the feeling of worry or the uncertainty of an outcome derails you from materializing your dreams.

For more information on mindfulness meditation, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.