How mental resilience can help through the pandemic
Resilience is the ability to stay strong during hard times. How are you doing this year? Looking back, what was the most difficult part? How did you handle that? Inner strength is good because then you can handle whatever problems come your way next time. There has been a lot of research about the benefits of building resilience in children and preparing them for a changing world.
In countries where children have everything, they never have to struggle, and others who take care of their problems for them are not equipped for handling life changes. Often parents do not want to see their child being hurt or struggling and feel better just 'doing it for them.'
This has 2 consequences – the child is denied the feeling of accomplishment and confidence in him/herself, and the child is not used to experiencing struggle, therefore enters adulthood with few tools to handle difficulties that are bound to come in life. They run to others for help or expect their partners to fix everything for them and blame them if they do not. Wise parents allow just the right amount of struggle to allow their children to build resilience.
Resilience is like a tree that has been beaten by strong winds year after year. Its roots grow stronger and hold the ground more firmly after every storm. It may be leaning and have lost a few leaves and branches, but it is still holding onto the ground with a new set of lessons to cherish. People are like trees. We react and grow stronger under difficult times. The pandemic has been a difficult time. It has changed our entire daily lives, our way of interacting with family, friends, travelling, and the workplace. Some of us withered at first, appalled and fearful of all the freedoms we had lost. After a time, some became accustomed to the new routines, accepted limitations, and even found benefits within the 'new normal.' It is their deep, firm roots tied to the ground which gave them the confidence to hang on.
Keeping yourself calm with a cup of tea, yoga, going for a walk, listening to music, or anything that helps to divert the focus towards productivity is good. Only thinking about own self could be stressful and create anxiety. Taking care of others is also a good way to overcome self-obsession. It feels fulfilling to do something nice for others. Listen deeply to others. Realise that others are uncomfortable and maybe afraid too.
Neurologically if you pull yourself out of the thinking mode and stay in your body, this balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Things, like sensing physical feelings, listening to birds, enjoying flowers, feeling a warm breeze, and just being aware, are calming and centring. A few moments here and there add up to strengthening your inner self, and then your tree is even stronger!
Following the above advice, those who struggle may grow roots for you and prepare you and your children for the changes that come in the future. With technology and fast-paced changes in education, production, business, and jobs, we want to ensure our children are ready for anything that comes their way in the future.
Vivian Huizenga is a Counselor at the International School Dhaka.