Building resilience during a global pandemic
Resilience has been a major theme of my work this week with pregnant and postpartum women. Sometimes I'll describe resilience as the ability to get back up on the horse after you’ve been kicked off (which really shows my Oklahoma roots).
This idea of “bouncing back” after adversity is not new. Humans are far more resilient than we think. We can heal from a great deal, both physically and psychologically.
However, resilience sometimes gets confused with “being tough”, which often refers to avoidance or invalidation of negative emotions. We hear a lot, “I want to be strong for my family/partner/child/employees” and not cry or be upset. I do a fair amount of challenging the idea that being strong or resilient is not feeling sad, disappointed, or scared.
Being resilient means accepting your vulnerable and negative emotions about difficult experiences. Giving these emotions space allows for the other positive emotions to be authentically present.
When talking to women who are about to give birth this week, we discussed a plan for building resilience during and after labor. This includes identifying intentions or goals, as well as available resources. We also processed thoughts & fears that might act as barriers to remaining positive and adaptive.
The article (https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience) identifies four areas where we can build resilience: 1) connection, 2) wellness, 3) healthy thinking, and 4) meaning.
It may be helpful to self-evaluate which areas you could use some extra support during this global pandemic. Do you feel like you need to feel more connected? And to whom? Do you feel like you could use more support to challenge negative thinking? Or, are you struggling to identify purpose and meaning during this stressful time?