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.