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Covid-19: Building Emotional Resilience the Face of Crisis

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Building Emotional Resilience
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Everywhere we look, there is only one topic of discussion, & everyone we meet has only one thing to talk about these days. And perhaps, we cannot blame the world for being so preoccupied with just one topic, because after all, it’s not every day (thankfully enough!), that the world as a whole finds itself fighting against a common enemy. But 4 months into the lockdown and pandemic outbreak (in India), we need to acknowledge that it takes a lot of emotional strength to deal with the overflow of information about the infection count, death rate, and not to mention the often sudden & arbitrary lockdowns imposed on people.

It would suffice to say that the pandemic is truly testing our emotional resilience and may also have exhausted a lot many of our emotional resources. The power of choice, which is so integral to feel emotionally in control has been taken away, and while each one of us is trying hard to fight the physical & emotional battle with the ongoing situation in our own way, it can certainly get hard at times to be emotionally resilient.

So what is “Emotional Resilience”? Consider a situation wherein you have gone for a river raft adventure. It’s your first time doing so and thus, the trainer briefs you in great detail about all the challenges that may come your way while river rafting. You are all excited but let’s accept that there is always going to be a chance that you will be faced with some challenging rapids & turns which no one briefed you about or which were completely unexpected. If you decide to analyze the situation, seek help, take appropriate actions to navigate through those rapids & turns, even if you may have got worried or may have panicked momentarily, then it’s your resilience coming into play here.

Emotional resilience is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress” (Source: APA). Being emotionally resilient doesn’t mean that you don’t get upset in the face of a crisis or that an unexpected situation doesn’t rattle you, but what being emotionally resilient implies is, that in spite of these sudden unexpected situations, you are able to bounce back. Think of all those individuals who got diagnosed as Covid-19 positive and have recovered and now trying to reintegrate themselves back into society; that is an example of being emotionally resilient too.

Being emotionally resilient is important even generally speaking, but becomes imperative in the face of a crisis. Children, for example, are very emotionally resilient, and it is this emotional resilience that helps them move on in spite of the traumatic situations that they may have faced. An emotionally resilient person is likely to view life’s challenges as opportunities or is at least going to try and develop alternative perspectives if their original perspectives are not being fruitful in dealing with the crisis. The need to be emotionally resilient has never been of as much significance as it is now. Now, more than ever, we need to build our emotional coping resources. Below are just a few suggestions to do so.

  • Build Connections: In this day & age of physical distancing, it is important to build social connections. Technology has provided great relief for us when it comes to staying connected; however, we also need to look beyond technology and connect with our loved ones at home. Prioritizing relationships goes a long way in ensuring good emotional health.
  • Foster Wellness: Self – Care is extremely important not just during a crisis, but even generally so. Having a routine, looking after yourself, eating well, taking adequate rest, meditation, exercise, all of these are healthy ways to look after oneself. It’s easy to lose track of what one needs in the midst of chaos, but taking some time off and engaging in activities that you like to do or developing a new hobby, is essential. Other ways to foster wellness include a mindful way of living or mindfulness meditation and trying to avoid letting your thoughts focus on the negatives.
  • Find Purpose: Often a global crisis which impacts many tends to make people question the purpose of life & sometimes the very essence of the meaning of life. Thus, it would help if we could focus on finding purpose during these times; helping others, volunteering our skills to support a greater cause, and showing compassion toward those around us, can help. One can also look inwards and decide upon goals that they would like to pursue in an attempt toward self-development. Being focused on something structured and with meaning helps in being emotionally resilient during a crisis.
  • Embrace Healthy Thoughts: While it is very natural for the mind to wander towards the negative, it would help to keep things in perspective, focus on what you can control, and be in the present. Draw from your past experiences, and try to embrace positive/productive thoughts which will contribute to your emotional well-being.

Lastly, remember that just like you cannot run a marathon by practising for a single day, you cannot expect to be emotionally resilient in the face of a crisis, if you don’t look after your emotional health on a regular basis.

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