In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have you heard or read along the way, "We will get through this together"? It may seem cliche or perhaps something calming and reassuring to say or hear. But the reality is, this is a true and accurate sentiment. We will get through this together. This is by no means an attempt to minimize or downplay the severity of how this virus has impacted all of us in one way or another with a trite expression. However, when we consider the promises found in the word of God and the studies of neuroscience, the concept of resilience cannot be underestimated. Even if you do not consider yourself to be personally resilient, the truth is we are created, designed, and hard-wired for resilience. The history of humanity demonstrates this to be so. The word of God tells us it so. Research, neuroscience reveals it is so.
What is resilience? Resilience is the capacity or the ability to recover or bounce back from life's hardships, challenges, trials, and difficulties. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of threat.”
Resilience builds through spiritual discipline, consistency, and being aware of how we are feeling. Consider these strategies to help you not just cope and survive, but thrive with hope, grace, and joy (Nehemiah 8:10, Proverbs 18:14, Galatians 5:22-23.
Resilience Building Strategies
- Chose to be a positive person. The neuroscience of optimism shows that positive thinking is a key component in resilience (Philippians 4:8).
- Practice the spiritual discipline of taking one day at a time. The Bible teaches us that each day God gives us new mercies and new compassions that never end or fail (Lamentations 3:22-23). We have been supernaturally graced for each day. Focus on the present moment, knowing that you have what you need for the day.
- Talk about how you are feeling. Relationships and communication are God's idea (Genesis 2:18). We can never underestimated the power of community and authentic, mutually satisfying relationships. And, although we are encouraged to practice social distancing, there are still ways to interact with others that fall within the safety recommendations and guidelines. If you are struggling with fear, anxiety, frustration, worry, anger, etc.--talk to someone you trust about it!
- Exercise. Most of us know that exercise is vital for health and well-being. Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain and help us feel happy. Take a walk, ride your bike, or check out some of the many exercise programs available online and on social media.
- Prayer/Meditation. Taking time each day to pray and finding a quiet place to be in contemplative communion with God creates a mindfulness and awareness that God is ever present. How much time you spend in prayer/meditation is your personal decision--five minutes, 10 minutes, 3 hours...The important thing is to commit to practicing this consistently. Consistency builds resilience (Psalm 46:1, Isaiah 46:4, Philippians 4:6).
- Get adequate rest. We can not overstate the importance of rest and a good night's sleep (Job 33:15, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 127:2 ) It is God's gift to us. It is also the way our body regenerates, replenishes, and refreshes.
- Get Creative. Creativity has been known to build resilience. For example, a segment on a news program I watched showed a florist who had begun offering flower arranging classes via Zoom. Folks who were interested, simply registered, paid the fee, the flowers and supplies were shipped to their individual homes, and the online classes were in full swing. What a neat idea! Community and creativity at its finest, building resilience!
Daily practicing these strategies builds up our resilience; just as lifting weights builds muscles and strength. These strategies, when applied regularly and consistently makes us more resilient. We also model positive examples of resilience to our children and loved ones.
Recently, my husband bought a tent for our daughters. It was a gesture to help break up the monotony of the days and address some antsiness. He popped the tent in the backyard with a table and some lawn chairs. Needless to say, he got the Father of Year award. This was a huge deal for kids who are trying to wrap their heads around "social distancing", "mitigating", "flattening the curve", and "self-quarantine". In their young eyes, this has been overwhelming and very upsetting at times. So, when my youngest daughter said to me, "Yeah, um so, Mom...you probably pretty much won't be seeing me a lot today", as she headed out the door with all the amenities to make her camp out comfortable, I chuckled because I understood what the pop-up tent meant to her. Inwardly, I thanked God for that moment. She may not know it, but she is learning resilience. God bless my husband for the creative idea, but more importantly, God bless him for modeling and demonstrating resilience.
Yes, realities of this pandemic is challenging, no doubt about it. Some days may be better than others, but it is all about perspective, positivity, and perserverance. When we commit to daily practicing self-care, trusting in the grace and mercy of God, and being aware of our thoughts and feelings--we will experience resilience!
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