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Stronger Today: What COVID-19 has taught us about our resilience

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Psychologists generally define resilience as the ability to positively adapt to adversity. Resilience is not “pushing through” at all costs – it’s about being flexible and open to adapting to a challenge. And, research tells us that resilience isn’t hard-wired, it’s developed over time as we face tough situations. In other words, we can develop these skills and use them as we move forward in life.

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting unexpected new pressures on all of us. Whether it’s trying to work from home while homeschooling kids, dealing with a loss of a job, or missing routines that helped ground us. We all respond to adversity differently. As we start thinking about life post-COVID, now’s a good time to reflect on how you’ve responded, and acknowledge your resilience in getting through an incredibly tough time. Think of it as your “resilience bank” – skills you can draw from as you face other challenges in life.

Here’s a few ways COVID may have added to our resilience bank:

We can acknowledge our feelings.
Many of us keep our innermost fears and anxieties locked away. COVID has opened this up for many – dealing with a universal challenge has made it easier to talk about our feelings. Acknowledging all the reactions that you have about a tough situation will continue to be an important way to move through these reactions instead of getting stuck.

We can adapt more than we thought.
A big part of resilience is being flexible to change – adapting to our new environment instead of resisting it. We’ve managed to construct new routines, new ways of working, new ways of child care, new ways of staying healthy, new ways to connect. We’ve had to be innovative to get things done differently, but effectively. So, the next time life throws you a curveball, you’ll have some tricks up your sleeve.

We can connect in new ways.
Social distancing has made us change the way we connect with those we care about. While virtual meet-ups don’t replace real ones, we’ve made it work – adapting our behaviours to nurture the relationships that matter. For many, this has resulted in more frequent and genuine conversations that have strengthened bonds.

We can reset expectations.
With routines thrown up in the air, our productivity may have taken a hit. Our deadlines may not be met, our house may be less clean, we might miss exercising some weeks. By being able to recalibrate expectations, we give ourselves permission to not meet the standards we previously set for ourselves. Moving forward, the ability to reset expectations based on the situation at hand will allow us to better take care of our own needs, and those of others.

We can stay positive in the face of uncertainty.
There are many things that are out of control. But, we’ve managed to rally together, “do our part to stay apart,” and celebrate small things (I can get a haircut!) that we’d never even think about before. Through the tough times, we’ve still smiled, laughed and virtually hugged. We’ve found ways to achieve our goals in new ways. We’ve found a supportive ear to hear our struggles. We’ve found the positive, even when it felt impossible to find. One more skill to add to the bank.

It’s good to celebrate ourselves – how we’ve coped, how we’ve adapted, how we’ve shown strength. Taking a look at your own response to COVID can remind you of a resiliency you may never have realized you had – and will take with you in the days, months and years to come.

Research tells us that resilience isn’t hard-wired, it’s developed over time as we face tough situations.

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