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Cultivating Mental Resilience

It’s hard to believe we are coming up to a year since the impact of Covid-19 hit us in such a big way.

We have had to learn to shapeshift and evolve continuously over the last year, and the challenges of that have been great at times. From learning how to use Zoom, to lockdowns, to facemasks, to heated political and human rights issues. It. has. been. a. year.

If there’s one thing that gets us through hard times, it’s cultivating mental resilience. My brother shared an article on his experience with this recently, and I was inspired to bring this to all of you through the lens of acknowledging the one year mark of the pandemic.

Why Mental Resilience is Vital

The world outside of us is in constant motion, and often, that motion moves in a way that is challenging for us.

Mental Resilience gives us the tools and energy stores to be able to face challenges with two feet on the ground, and learn and grow with more ease.

It doesn’t mean that challenges don’t happen, it means that you are better equipped when they come along.

How to Cultivate Mental Resilience

1. Be mindful of the stories we tell ourselves.

I think that there is value in pauses when we are in the midst of a conflict or struggle and asking ourselves, “What’s really happening RIGHT NOW?’

It’s so easy for our minds to assign meaning to things and create stories about what’s happening, or what’s going to happen, that sometimes we get lost in that and need to remember that those stories aren’t necessarily true.

Do you know it to be true that someone is not answering your text right away because they don’t actually like you, or could they be busy with something and not looking at their phone?

Giving ourselves a little reality check from time to time can save us a lot of pain and suffering.

2. Take responsibility for what you can control, and let go of what you can’t.

There are only four things that you can control: your thoughts, your feelings, your words, and your actions.

Let go of everything else.

You can’t control what happens outside of you, but you have enormous power in controlling what you do with what happens to you. How you respond is what determines the outcome of the situation.

Take care of yourself, be responsible for yourself, and let the rest go.

3. Keep things in perspective.

When we are emotionally triggered, it’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. Asking yourself how much this will matter a month from now, a year from now, a decade from now really helps put things into perspective and helps you consciously choose where to invest your energy, and where to just let go.

4. Hold space for your emotions.

It’s okay to not be okay right now. You don’t need to use this time productively, you can just allow yourself to feel and process the weight of everything that is happening. If you are struggling, you don’t need to do it alone. Reach out to a friend, family, or a therapist or counsellor to help you navigate challenging emotional waters.

5. Get outside and connect with nature.

Nothing puts things into perspective quite like climbing to the top of a mountain or watching birds flit around from treetop to treetop.

Being in nature also significantly reduces your stress, in fact, even just looking at a photo of nature reduces cortisol levels.

The mountains are calling.

6. Have a meditation or mindfulness practice

Meditating actually changes the brain and the way the body responds to stress. Start with as little as 5 minutes per day and try to meditate first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day. There are even apps now that will teach you how to meditate.

A mindfulness practice brings you deep into the present moment and can help ease worries or anxiety. It could be as simple as sipping a cup of tea and closing your eyes and just feeling it.

7. Connect with those you love.

Connection is something that has been challenging in big ways for many of us this year and yet, connection with those we love is vital for our wellbeing and in building and maintaining mental resilience.

Get creative and use the amazing technological resources we have at our fingertips. It might not be the same, but it is something worth adapting for.

8. Practise gratitude.

We are literally programmed biologically to look for what’s wrong as a method of survival. We need to be able to spot the danger. But in today’s world, that has a tendency to hinder us a lot more than it helps us.

The antidote is gratitude. We have so much to be grateful for. Even if that’s just clean air to breathe and a roof over our heads.

Cultivate a practice of listing 3 things each morning and/or before bed that you are grateful for.

9. Fill your cup.

You aren’t serving anybody by running on empty. Take the time to recharge, practice self-care, and fill your cup before anything else.

Making this your top priority allows you to show up with better integrity and more to give to all of your interactions.

10. Be kind to others and be of service.

Being kind and of service to others is what gives our lives meaning and purpose.

Being of service could be something you do through your work, or it could be as simple as holding the door open for a stranger or stepping out of the way to let someone pass.

Kindness has the power to change the world, and studies have shown that acts of kindness strengthen mental health and sense of wellbeing.