Resilience and overcoming adversity

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Have you ever wondered why some individuals can get through tough situations while others struggle? The answer is different for everyone. However, resilience is a key component. Have you ever asked, “what makes me resilient?”

Resilience allows a person to manage adversity and not allowing those adversities to take away their personal resolve to do what is asked of them daily. Resilient people can change a negative situation to a more positive one through flexibility, not getting stuck on failures, healing emotionally, and continuing moving forward. Sounds easy, right?

The power of positivity

How many times have you heard “be positive?” Being positive does not mean an individual is not allowed to feel or discuss their negative emotions. Emotions like negative feelings, grief, loneliness, and working through the loss of normalcy must be given the acknowledgment they deserve. However, we don’t want to dwell on those emotions. Sometimes just saying things out loud, even if only a fraction of your being thinks it’s true, “this is for now, this is not forever,” can be helpful.

Break the negative cycle

The ability to regulate emotions while facing adversity is a trait of a resilient individual. Does this mean these people are never negative? Not even close; they are human, after all! One fact remains – negativity breeds negativity. Look at social media and observe how each person responds without the unpleasantry of seeing the person’s physical emotions on the receiving end of that nasty comment or harsh post. Some may even feel comradery when others share the same negative belief adding fuel to the negative cycle. Sometimes before responding, simply think about whether the input is solicited or helpful. Again, one skill of the resilient person is the ability to regulate emotions and to not engage in those sorts of exchanges that have a negative impact.

Trauma exposure does not mean a person will automatically become less resilient; sometimes, the opposite is true. It is important to know that the definition of trauma varies for everyone. Maladaptive coping in traumatic situations may reduce the ability to be resilient in the future. Reaching out to psychiatric services, clergy, or trusted individuals for support after trauma can be helpful. Support groups are another good option when many are exposed to the same traumatic situation. You may not feel you need a group session, but somebody else exposed to the same situation might appreciate you being there to help them walk through their emotions. Taking the hour out of your day to attend a meeting is never a waste of time when you have the potential to help another heal. You never know who you may be helping.

Under your influence

Part of resilience is taking note of what an individual controls. Sometimes breaking it down into three categories can be helpful.

1) What is in my control (family, food choices, exercise, sleep, emotional responses)?

2) What can I influence (community, being a positive role model, volunteer, service)?

3) What is my concern (COVID-19, weather, the price of gas, environment, world peace)?

In considering these three areas, break them up into percentages. Ask yourself where you are spending most of your time and emotional energy. Consider if it makes sense to do so.

Awareness of others

Lastly, be kind. Kindness can be contagious and is a common trait of resilient individuals. Kindness can be as simple as spending a few seconds to acknowledge those around you. Make eye contact, give a nod or wave. Something simple can easily make a person’s day. Telling somebody you are happy they showed up or saying this will be a stellar shift may be all it takes to change the day’s narrative.

I want to personally thank each staff member at Tri-County Health Care for your resilience and for taking care of the local community. The pandemic has weighed heavy on many. The loss of normalcy, the ever-changing information, and the loss of life must be acknowledged. Together, we will come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.

About the author: Traci Jones, APRN, PMHNPTraci Jones, Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Traci Jones is a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Tri-County Health Care. She loves living in rural Minnesota and resides on a ranch in Sebeka. Much of her time is spent tending to her horses and many pets. She is devoted to tailoring care to the needs of her patients and always tries to connect people to what truly matters.


Coping with COVID-19 during the holidays

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COVID-19 has changed much about our society over the last year. It may seem like coping with COVID-19 during the holidays is just one more change to navigate. The holidays have changed with the pandemic. In years past, December would be a time for Christmas parties and family gatherings but that isn’t possible this year. Tri-County Health Care wants you to enjoy the holidays safely. We offer these tips to enjoy the 2020 holiday season.

Stay Home and stay safe

This is the one time of year families can set aside work and gather with family, but things have to be a little different this time around. Instead of making the long trek to grandma’s house, keep everyone safe by staying home. Holiday gatherings are a risk to become super spreader events. Meeting for Christmas dinner isn’t worth spreading COVID-19. This year, take a break from the icy roads and fruit cake.

Embrace technology this year

The gift of technology

Embrace technology this year. Most have been blessed with a smartphone. Often this little plastic rectangle dominates our lives and causes a certain amount of stress but it is also a great tool for communication. It allows us to connect to our loved ones who may live hundreds of miles away. Call your family members, use video chat and learn to love technology. Technology exists to make life easier; let’s let it do that. This year, save a spot around the Christmas tree for an iPad.

Don’t go it alone

Spending time with your immediate family is great but not everyone has family they live with. This can be a little depressing…but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t spend the holiday alone, find creative ways to connect with others without standing in the same room. Take this opportunity to explore social media. There are a myriad of groups, channels and pages dedicated to spreading Christmas cheer. If you’re feeling lonely, jump on Facebook and enjoy some cat videos or check out other online communities that focus on an area of interest.

New traditions

Instead of pining over past Christmases, look to the future. Use this year as an opportunity to create new traditions that can be passed down for generations. The holidays have become increasingly corporate and materialistic over the years. Break this downward trend and use this year to come up with new ways to enjoy the holidays. Challenge yourself to learn a new Christmas recipe. Flex your arts and crafts skills and make custom ornaments or decorations. Even doing something a simple as playing a board game or watching a Christmas movie could liven things up.

Christmas 2020 needs to be a little different

The pandemic won’t last forever and we’ve all been given a little hope. A vaccine is currently being distributed to frontline workers and it could bring an end to the pandemic. Use this time to reflect. Tolerating COVID-19 during the holidays doesn’t have to overshadow the good tidings this time of year should bring.

Tri-County Health Care is taking extensive measures to safeguard the health of its employees and patients. Check out this page for more information about COVID-19 and how Tri-County Health Care is putting your health first.


Coronavirus: Experts Tackle Social Distancing and Mental Health

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The entire country has spent the better part of the last month practicing social distancing due to the Coronavirus. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has extended the “Stay at Home” order through May 4. Early numbers indicate that these measures have helped to “Flatten the Curve.”

While it is encouraging to see data that reflects progress in the fight against the Coronavirus, it is still vitally important to continue with these mitigation measures. That means limiting exposure to anyone outside of the immediate household. It also means more time out of the comfort zone, which can have both a physical and mental effect. This week, our experts discussed the continued importance of social distancing in addition to providing tips to adjust to stressful and uncertain times.

 

Q: Am I allowed to visit friends and family?Professional doctors and nurses posing together in a hospital ward and wearing protective suits, coronavirus outbreak emergency concept

Ben Hess, M.D., stresses the importance of staying at home and practicing social distancing. This includes both in the health care setting and in the community.

Dr. Hess: First, Tri-County Health Care is restricting visitors to reduce the traffic throughout our buildings. Even though we do not have any COVID-19 positive patients at this time, we are still operating like it is present in our communities. Anyone coming into the building who doesn’t need to be there has the potential to walk away and spread the virus despite the protective measures we have in place. The virus can hide on all types of surfaces and you never know where you can pick it up.

As for visiting friends and family outside of a health care facility, I would strongly advise against it. Social distancing should be practiced with anyone who is not living in your current household. There are some exceptions, like having children in daycare, but just visiting family, friends or neighbors is a dangerous thing to do as it can spread the virus throughout the community. Even if you are not worried about your own health, you don’t know how many people you may inadvertently infect.

 

Q: How does Coronavirus compare to other contagious diseases from the past?

Tri-County Health Care has a provider on staff with firsthand experience battling a contagious disease. Alfredmy Chessor, M.D., treated patients in Africa during the Ebola epidemic in 2014-15. She explains another reason why it is vital to practice social distancing to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.

Dr. Chessor: With Ebola, it was very obvious when the patient was ill and deathly sick. This made it was easier to distance and protect yourself with the proper equipment. With Coronavirus, there are people who have the virus but show no symptoms. These are the ones spreading the virus without even knowing it. When we talk about social distancing and work toward flattening the curve, we are trying to minimize the risk of spreading the Coronavirus to people who are more susceptible. An individual may show no signs or symptoms, but even in a mild symptom state, they are highly contagious to those around them.

 

Q: What are some tips to manage mental health and make it through these stressful and uncertain times?

Aaron Larson, M.D., sees patients in Behavioral Health Services and knows it is a stressful time for many people. People are thrown out of rhythm and are isolated at home and not able to visit friends and family. It can be hard to cope and make necessary adjustments, but there are tips to maintain a positive mindset.

Dr. Larson: We are bombarded with information, suggestions, rules and different ways of doing things while also fearing for our health and the health of our families, friends and communities. Here are a few points to keep in mind when adjusting to this new abnormal.

Emotions

Emotions can range from fear, anger, denial, acting out or further isolation beyond social distancing. Be on guard against the overwhelming nature of these emotions. It’s okay to be frustrated, angry and scared, but don’t get stuck there. Not paying attention to these emotions and reactions can lead to maladaptive behaviors such as substance abuse, or self-medication to stay awake or to calm down.

Information

We see a constant stream of information from many sources – national, world or local. I suggest relying on local information. Read or listen Video call online during quarantine to keep social distanceto it once or twice a day, get what you need and let it go. The 24-hour news cycle is only going to increase anxiety and you can get caught up in a cycle that is constantly changing.

The local health care experts know what is going on. When the information is received, be acceptable to the change it may bring. It may seem negative at the time but don’t get hung up on it.

Self-Care

We are trying to adapt to a new normal and our brains are learning how to do this. It is important to stay connected to people. Call, video chat or connect with a friend through social media. It’s important to connect with elderly relatives and let them know you love them and care about them. They may be more isolated.

Make sure to take care of your physical health. Get outside and take care of yard work or finish that house project you have been waiting to complete. Remember to take your regular medications and have an adequate supply. Taking care of your physical health will leave you in the best condition to fight off the virus if you do get it. Remember to stay safe and don’t do anything that will require a trip to the emergency room. It may be overburdened due to the virus.

Q: What can I do if I want to see a provider for a minor illness but don’t want to risk being exposed to the Coronavirus by leaving the house?

A: Patients have the option to seek care online through the TCHC eClinic where providers can virtually diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication. (Our eClinic also offers FREE Coronavirus screening)