Psychologist shows how to develop resilience in the midst of difficulties

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Kendra Kubala finishes her last telehealth session after a long day of consultations. She spends many of her work hours as a clinical psychologist offering online mental health check-ins, something she had to adapt quickly when the pandemic began.

Kubala provides guidance on how to practice resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, which allowed her to treat frontline workers like supermarket workers at the start of the pandemic, she said.

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Being resilient is most challenging when there seems to be no end in sight to hardships, like living with Covid-19, said Kubala, who works in New York and Pennsylvania.

Humans inherently want things to be logical, and we love a beginning, middle and end, she said.

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“When we don’t have that easily identifiable ending,” Kubala said, “it can create excessive worry that can lead to anxiety.”

Resilience is a skill, not a personality trait, she said, so you can strengthen it with a variety of strategies.

Practice mindfulness

Many people mistakenly believe that mindfulness only includes meditation, but it’s also about being present in the moment, Kubala said.

One way to do this is to pay attention to your five senses, she said. Focus on what you can hear, see, taste, smell and touch when you’re feeling overwhelmed, said Kubala.

“Recognizing what is happening in that moment can sometimes calm us down in a way that allows us to move forward in a more predictable and stable way,” she said.

Have a consistent routine

Some people like to stick to a daily routine, which can help them feel more in control of their lives, said Jason Moser, a professor of clinical science, cognition and cognitive neuroscience at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Routines can include anything that has positively affected your mental health in the past, like having a sleep schedule or eating healthy foods, he said.

Exercising outdoors is another healthy activity to include in your skill toolbox and can be done with a partner, Moser said.

Nature can also allow you to broaden your perspective, said Ethan Kross, professor of psychology and management and organizations at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. When hiking, he makes a concerted effort to look at trees, some of which may have been growing for hundreds of years, he said.

“I’ve only been here a few decades,” Kross said, “and this tree has weathered all sorts of things, like tornadoes, and it’s still standing.”

Build a strong community

One of the strongest strategies for dealing with adversity is to build a strong support network of people you care about, Moser said.

It lets you talk about what’s going on in a safe space and get advice from others with different perspectives, he said.

When you’re in pain, you might feel like you’re alone, but it can be comforting to talk about problems with others and realize you’re not alone, Moser said.

Other people may also increase their level of responsibility for achieving healthy habits or achieving goals, he said.

If you have someone else you’re responsible for for a morning walk or a run twice a week, that social aspect can help maintain some of these healthy habits, Moser said.

Talk to yourself like a friend

People are much better at giving advice to others on emotional issues than they are at following it, Kross said.

One coping strategy is to change your perspective and start talking to yourself as if you were talking to someone else, he said.

For example, in a difficult time, ask yourself, “How are you going to manage the situation?” So give yourself advice, Kross said.

“It helps them change their perspective so they start talking to themselves as they would to someone else,” he said, “which often leads to wiser ways of managing situations.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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