When we first went into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I don’t think I was alone in thinking that it would be a stressful few weeks, but that I could manage. As those weeks stretched into months phrases like ‘social distancing’ and ‘the new normal’ became catch-alls for the situation we’d found ourselves in. Reality is that we will need to manage for a while longer still. We need to manage our stress and the effects it has on us. We need to be resilient.

Resilience is one’s capacity to recover from difficulties. The definition of ‘difficulties’ can vary with each person, but there is no doubt that these days, everyone is experiencing a struggle. We are all trying to recover mentally and emotionally so that we can manage. Some days I find it really hard. By that, I mean that it seems my capacity to rebound from these struggles, to regain my focus and bring positive energy to the task at hand, is less than ideal. In an attempt to learn more about how to build the necessary resilience, I read a number of articles on the topic.

There are a lot of different strategies out there and they range from getting enough sleep, to surrounding yourself with specific aromas, to decluttering your house, to booking a full-service getaway vacation (I think that one was suggested pre-pandemic). Many suggestions seemed great to me, but seemed to also require more energy than I can muster. . . which kind of defeats the purpose. As a student of science, one article in particular appealed to me: Five Science Backed Strategies to Build Resilience from Berkeley.

I am not one to meditate or write letters to myself, but I found that once I sorted through the many recommendations, there are some common themes that I could feel comfortable trying. Here is my breakdown:

1. Unpack what’s bothering you. Identify what’s not ok.

Just identify it. Name it. Recognize it – no judgement.

If it sits well, express it in some way (art? poetry? a journal or blog? friendly conversation?)

2. Recognize that you are not alone – that others have likely experienced this too.

Imagine that one of your friends brought this trouble to you. What would you say to them? Think about what words you would say to them.

Would you be kinder to them than you are being to yourself? If your answer is yes – let that sit for a minute. Try compassion!

3. Cultivate forgiveness for yourself or for others as is appropriate for the situation.

Can you accept the events, the emotions? Just accept – what happened, happened, and these emotions are the result.

Can you let go of the ill will & the resentment?

If you can find the physical tension (toes, shoulders, hands, teeth, neck?), can you release those muscles?

Take a few deep breaths and release the tension, slowly.

Sometimes I’m able to do some of these things – sometimes not. Sometime it helps build that resilience that I need – sometimes not. But I always try my best.

I hope something resonates with you. Stay safe!

— Tracy Walker

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