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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

April 22, 2021, Smith, Jeanette M., PhD
Still Struggling After 2020? Practice Resilience
Still Struggling After 2020? Practice Resilience

Many of us thought the New Year would mean all the struggles of 2020 would be behind us, and yet, even though things aren’t the way we hoped they’d be, we can do it! We’ve been using our resilience skills without appreciating how great we’ve been doing. So, here are a few reminders. A chance to give yourselves a pat-on-the-back for doing such a great job through the challenges in 2020, knowing you can keep it up!

Remember, resilience is the ability to bounce back from negative experiences or challenges. Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience adversity, setbacks and painful emotions like everyone else. When your world has been turned upside down, you’re able to be real with your difficult thoughts and feelings without staying stuck on them. Being resilient means, you’ve accepted that stress and emotional pain are a part of life. They don’t define you. You’re able to work through your problems.  You remember to use your flexibility, creativity and humor throughout these challenging times. You take care of your health and do nurturing things for yourself to help soothe those painful times. You take walks or engage in other fun exercise. When you have the energy and resources, you give back to others through keeping your commitments to friends and family, volunteering, helping neighbors, etc. which helps you take the focus off your own problems and expand your life skills.

You’ve shown you can accept unexpected changes in life, knowing things don’t always turn out the way you hoped. Learning to accept what you cannot change and change what you can, is a major component of resilience. By being flexible when your hopes, plans, ideas and goals are thwarted due to unavoidable circumstances, you can focus on new hopes and plans that are still consistent with your values. By accepting what you can’t control, you put effort into things you can change and control.

You continue to work on being present throughout each day, so you can notice the moments of joy and delight at unexpected times. As young children, we are naturally in-the-moment as was highlighted by the recent news report of a dinosaur footprint discovered by a 4-year old girl. How many adults had walked over that same footprint and never noticed it? Often, when we’re faced with ongoing challenges, it can be easy for our brain to become stuck on a superhighway of worry thoughts and negative emotions. We can become so fused with what is going on in our head that we miss out on our life. To become more present and make positive connections in your brain more easily, use the GLAD technique each day. Notice and write down at least one thing for each of the following categories each day:

 

G – Notice something you’re Grateful for, such as a beautiful sunset or the stars.

L – Notice something you Learned today, such as a new trick on the computer.

A – Notice something you Achieved, like brushing your teeth or remembering your medications.

D – Notice something that brought Delight, such as a silly meme. Laughter can help us relieve stress and feel more connected with others.

 

Finally, remember to have realistic expectations of yourself. Maintaining your valued life can be extra difficult when so many around you are also struggling. Reaching out for psychological assistance when you need a little help through these challenging times is another important aspect of taking care of yourself. Connect with our Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Psychology Department at 602-933-2264.

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