RESILIENCE TIP Resilience is the capacity to respond constructively to challenges and stress, to Bounce Back Better. Some people are naturally more resilient than others, and, resilience can be intentionally developed.
Resilience When Under Fire
When our nation is under fire, when our soldiers are engaged in dangerous conflict, stress levels can run high. For those directly and indirectly affected by the current situation, there are ways of responding that can ease the sense of stress.
Stress occurs when demands of a situation are taxing our resources. Stress is very much related to perception, to how we perceive the demands being made of us and to how we perceive the resources we have to address the demands. Some stress can actually be positive, pushing us to respond constructively in ways we did not know we were capable of, resulting in a positive sense of pride and accomplishment. Stress also prepares us physically and mentally to act in life-saving ways. In these days many of us are being stressed, for example, by demands to unexpectedly adjust routines, by financial concerns as a result of the situation, by trying to provide a sense of security for ourselves and for those we care about. Following are some brief suggestions on how to respond constructively, resiliently, to these demands, in order to reduce our sense of stress.
Focus: Focus in on what are the immediate and personal problems that you need to be addressing. What special plans might you need to make for today? For your own safety, or for your family’s or employees’ safety? Special food and drink to have on hand or to keep in shelters? Special activities to have for kids spending unexpected time at home or shelters? Agreed-upon systems for family members to contact each other after sirens so everyone can be quickly calmed? There may be future problems to be solved, and there may be problems others need to be addressing. If you are currently feeling very stressed, there is no benefit in worrying about these wider issues; unless planning calms you down, then plan away. If the number of demands feels overwhelming, take the time to prioritize what needs to be done. Divide tasks into “Must”, “Should”, and “Could”, and tackle them in that order. Also consider in which areas you truly have some control. Try to avoid wasted energy in trying to control the uncontrollable. And if you are feeling stuck on an important issue, ask yourself, “What is one other way to think about this, or to address this?”
Self-care: Be careful not to neglect the activities that you know keep you feeling good. This can include healthy diet, regular exercise, deep breathing or mediation, playing or listening to music, artwork and crafts, and brainteasers and other mentally engaging games. While stress is related to perception, it can create very real physical symptoms such as back pain, stomach ache, headache, insomnia, or a general sense of feeling unwell. You may want to consider how to reduce stress before seeking medical solutions for these symptoms. (Do consider seeking medical help if the symptoms persist or worsen.) Emotional states such as irritability, anger, anxiety, difficulties in thinking clearly, and depression may also be stress related. These physical and emotional states may be eased by the activities listed above, or by speaking with a trusted friend. You may also want to speak to a professional.
Social support: Social support, contact with friends and relatives, can be a very important resource in times of stress. Humans are social beings, and often derive comfort from social contact. Although remember that stress can increase anxiety which shortens tempers, and so lead to atypical conflicts with others. Consider if conflicts you are experiencing with others might be stress-related. If yes, try to put the conflict aside and focus on one of the self-care suggestions above.
Big picture: Keep the big picture in mind, that this is a short-term stressful situation for longer-term peace of mind, and that there is never 100% guaranteed security. You actually have much more experience living in uncertainty than you may remember, and you can use that experience to manage the current period of uncertainty as well.
Stress is inevitable, and this is a stressful time. And, we can respond in ways that decrease our sense of stress.
Carolyn S. Tal, PhD Psychologist and Consultant 052-825-8585, firstname.lastname@example.org (Please contact me if you would like to have these tips sent directly to your e-mail.)