Resilience is a word that we use frequently in the mental health field to convey the capacity of humans to recover or adjust in the face of extreme stress or times of significant change. Derived from the Latin word “resilire”, meaning to “leap back”, before we began broadly applying this term to the human condition, physicists defined it as “the power or ability to return to original form after being bent, compressed or stretched.”
Many of us are feeling the extreme strain of the collective impact that we are experiencing in the face of COVID-19. Our minds, our emotions, and our well-being are being compressed, stretched, and bent to the point where we may feel a sense of coming close to breaking. Every day holds numerous unexpected challenges that each of us continues to face as we navigate both personally and professionally how to stay grounded.
This is why, now more than ever, we must have faith in our personal and collective resilience, and trust that the capacity to adapt and leap back from even the most painful and challenging circumstances is within each of us.
Trusting in our resilience doesn’t mean that we should be able to consistently maintain hopefulness and optimism. In fact, we will have moments, days, or weeks where we feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, “bent” to the extreme, and unable to comprehend a return to our original state. We are living in one of the most difficult collective experiences of our time and cannot expect that we will come out of this unchanged or unaffected.
Part of the resilient mindset is the recognition that we have been changed somehow and affected by the circumstances around us. It is so important that we invite patience with ourselves and those around us, and acceptance and hope that our elasticity or resilience will allow us to return once again to a state of well-being.
All of this requires a radical acceptance of that which is out of our control (like a global pandemic), and cultivating the ability to move in and out of moments of stress with more ease, or “absorb” and “release” what has been thrust upon us.
As humans, during this extraordinary time, we’re unlikely to avoid the impact. What we can do, is allow ourselves, as much as possible, to ride the waves of emotion and uncertainty with acceptance and with trust that this current state is no more constant than the one before.
Whether you are struggling to recover from this virus yourself, suffering from the loss of a loved one, strained by unemployment, or going without basic needs such as food or shelter, are an essential service provider stepping in on the front lines, or caring for children or loved ones at home, know that we truly are all in this together and that we will get through this.
Though not by our own choice, we have been thrust into the unknown and forced to adapt quickly, jump into uncomfortable spaces, and trust that we will land safely. This has will serve us well, no matter what lies ahead, and we will be better prepared to face change and uncertainty with resilience and strength.
Be sure to take time every day, in some way, to disconnect, recharge, focus on what is most important in your life, have patience with yourself and others, and trust in the power of your resilience.