“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Victor Frankl (Holocaust survivor)
Did you know that emotional resilience is one of the most important characteristics of successful individuals? We know that resilience is the ability we have to ‘bounce back’ from challenging situations but did you know there are 3 types of resilience, physical, mental and emotional?
Physical resilience is the way we heal and mend our bodies from physical and health challenges while mental resilience is the ability we have to change our thoughts and to shift our mindset.
Emotional resilience is reflected in how we are able to control and manage our emotions during challenging times. Dr Barry in his book on Emotional Resilience (2018) claims that emotional resilience is one of the key ‘building blocks of life”. While it is important to acknowledge and experience our emotions, it is not healthy for us to become stuck in them.
So how do we develop our emotional resilience particularly during the challenging times we are currently experiencing through the world wide Covid19 pandemic?
1. Develop your emotional awareness. Become aware of how you are feeling emotionally, and why you are feeling this way. For example being specific about why you are feeling anger or despair can help you to then develop ways you can address these. Remind yourself that it's okay to feel and express your emotions and not to compare yourself to anyone else.
2. Defuse rather than ignite your emotions.
Once you recognise and acknowledge the emotion you are feeling you can imagine rating it on a scale of 1-10, and then ask yourself how helpful it is to feel the emotion this strongly? If it is not helpful then you can imagine allowing the emotion to slowly release from your body, perhaps breathing out slowly and saying to yourself “I allow this …… to release from my body”. Imagine the strong emotion sliding down the scale until it is at a comfortable level or has disappeared entirely.
3. Build an internal 'locus of control'. It’s easy to get stuck into blaming others for situations that we have no control over, but that doesn't help us to build our own emotional resilience. Developing a strong internal 'locus of control' is about recognising that you are in control of your emotions no matter how other people’s actions may trigger you.
4. Regain control.
Strong negative emotions can easily make us feel out of control and helpless to manage them (like an out of control rollercoaster). However you can remind yourself of past situations that you have managed successfully and that you have the inner strength and resources to deal with your emotions.
5. Develop a personal 'toolkit of healthy resources'. Given the uncertainty of continued future lockdowns it can be helpful to develop a personal 'toolkit' of things that help you emotionally deal with the challenges of lockdown. Your toolkit could include:
· A list of the family and friends that help you feel positive and who you can connect with online or a phone chat
· The games/activities you can play together with friends online.
· The physical exercise/ walks you can do with a friend,
· A gratitude journal that you write in everyday
· The healthy nourishing foods and snacks you will feed your body