Five Tips for Building Resilience during the Pandemic

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Five Tips for Building Resilience during the Pandemic


 Ann Marie Roepke, PhD

Ann Marie Roepke. Photo courtesy of  Ali Heller. Ann Marie Roepke, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and organizational consultant at Evoke Training and Consulting, PLLC. She hosts the podcast Psychological Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus.
For many of us, these are hard times. The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted daily life in profound ways. Simultaneously, we’re grappling with issues of long-standing systemic racism and facing an economic recession. These circumstances can breed uncertainty and lack of control—setting us up for fear, stress, and depression. Given all this, it may be quite normal to feel not normal.
More than ever, we need the skills and the relationships that help us to be resilient: to make it through challenging times with the least suffering and the greatest well-being possible. Here are five tips that may help you boost your own resilience:

1. Find and follow your values. What matters most to you? When we clarify and connect with our values, we can use them like true north on a compass to point our way through the storm. Whether we care about social justice, professional development, showing love for our family and friends, spiritual growth, or something else, our values are a powerful resource for guiding our actions during tough times.

2. Be kind to yourself. We often talk to ourselves in a harsh, critical, judgmental way—a way that we would never talk to our loved ones. Notice when you’re doing this and ask, “How would I talk to a close friend or a scared child?” Tap into that compassion for yourself.

3. Take back control. When so many things are out of our control, it can be helpful to identify parts of our life where we have more influence. Write out two lists: things I cannot control and things I can influence. Then take action on the latter!

4. Do boring self-care. Taking care of ourselves isn’t always about treating ourselves; it’s also about the mundane tasks of sleeping enough, moving our bodies, eating well, and giving ourselves a daily routine (which can restore a sense of normalcy).

5. Connect (creatively). We need other people. When in-person hangouts are unsafe and you’re getting “Zoom fatigue,” find creative ways to connect, whether via phone, text, email, gaming, or something else. Aim to make this connection active, rather than passively scrolling through social media (which can make some of us feel worse rather than better).

Coping flexibility might be more important than any single coping tool. It’s about having the right tool for the right job, not about getting really good at always using a hammer. Think of resilience-building as an experimental endeavor; try manipulating different variables (like the ones above) and informally gather data on what works for you. Use that data for new hypotheses and new experimental tests about how to boost your own resilience and well-being. //

This article is offered for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. If you have questions about what's right for you, check with your healthcare provider.

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