10 Dec Growing Stronger and More Resilient
in the Face of COVID-19
“Barn’s burnt down — now I can see the moon.” — Misuta Masahide (17 century Japanese poet)
Did 2020 challenge your beliefs, priorities, habits, strengths — and more? Recovery from the COVID-19 impacts may still be a long way away, but what you can do now is start 2021 with fresh hope and determination. That’s part of being resilient.
Building resilience is a crucial part of the recovery journey. By becoming more resilient, you empower yourself to bounce back next time life throws the unexpected at you.
True, not many of life’s events are as unexpected as a global pandemic that pushes the entire world into chaos. But if you can overcome this challenge, imagine what else you can push through.
The pandemic tested you to great lengths in the course of just a few months, yet you’ve found new ways to weather this storm. Now is a good time to look back at what worked well and how you can learn from it to become stronger.
Use this moment not only to understand the power of your own resilience but to reexamine your values and priorities as you face the future. Find a few quiet moments to reflect, reevaluate and understand how you’ll move forward.
Here are three questions you can ask yourself.
1. What have I gained?
You’re missing many things right now and it’s not easy to keep an optimistic outlook. Especially when the future continues to feel uncertain.
Focus on what you’ve gained. Look at your time at home as a gift.
Perhaps you’ve lost opportunities to socialize and eat a meal in person with friends — but you’ve gained new skills when you had to learn how to cook healthier. Or perhaps you’ve lost some personal connections while having to work from home — but you’ve gained free time when you stopped commuting.
When you feel flooded with negative thoughts, acknowledge them, then think through them to see the positive.
Think of it as reframing your perspective. The more positive your perspective, the more resilient you become because you can see challenges as opportunities to grow and improve.
2. What are my priorities and values?
With social distancing restrictions in place, you’ve had fewer distractions. What’s been truly important to you this year?
Whether it was connecting with family and friends, taking more time for self-care or finding new ways to grow and learn, think about what your priorities have been during the pandemic — and what that means for you in the new year.
As you’re considering your new priorities and where you should take them in 2021, you may also be contemplating your values. Values influence your priorities because they serve as an internal compass for your direction in life.
Substance abuse often drives people far away from their values — and as you grow along your recovery journey, you’ll get a clearer understanding of what you believe in. Embracing values such as gratitude, health and happiness is another way to build resilience.
3. What’s helped me through?
You may still be struggling with all the COVID-19 ramifications, and at times that feels like it’s getting harder rather than easier. That’s a normal response to situations where you don’t have an end in sight.
Rather than contemplating things that you can’t control, think of what’s worked well to get you to this moment.
How did you adapt to the situation? What skills and strategies did you use? Which ones have been the most successful? What areas would you like to improve on?
If you’ve been keeping a journal, read it to see if you can identify positive patterns. Or, ask for a trusted recovery partner or professional to guide you through your thoughts. Having a sounding board may help you if you’re stuck trying to figure things out.
Building resilience is not unlike maintaining a healthy lifestyle: It’s a lifelong process and you become stronger as you continue to work on it. And you need to constantly evaluate and adjust your approach.
The goal is to keep moving forward — and staying determined to rebound, no matter what.
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