It is New Year’s Day and I found myself being interviewed twice on the radio, once talking about coping with New Year after 2020, and the second time talking about ‘The Changing Man A mental health guide’. Would you believe during the second interview, I noticed the head of a reptile appear from behind some furniture. Luckily it was a blue-tongue lizard and not a snake! Phew! Fortunately I managed to keep on talking.
2020 was certainly a tough year
Let’s think about the year that has been, and the New Year. 2020 was such a tough year with uncertainty, changes in life, for many loss, and for others grief. People are saying that they are pleased it is over, but also in a pensive mood about 2021, not sure what it might hold for them.
Resilience, the buzz word
The media is saying that the buzz word for 2020 is not COVID19 or lockdown, but resilience. I agree. In 2020 we had to embrace change, dig deep within ourselves, use our strengths and get on with it. It was amazing how the year 12 students coped and thrived, and how health and aged care workers carried on with their jobs.
Resilience means being flexible, being able to bounce back and go forward. So we need to take resilience into 2021. There is still some uncertainty, and still things to get through, but there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. We need to use all of our resources to keep moving forwards.
Tools for resilience
Here are some tools to grow resilience:
- Take care of yourself: Time to nurture yourself and take time out, eat healthy foods and have good sleeps. Manage stress with exercise or meditation or talking with others.
- Be kind to yourself: It is important to be kind, gentle and encouraging to yourself (as you would others). Time to drop self-criticism.
- Keep the social connections going: We found out the importance of good social support in 2020. It can buffer against stress, and provide enjoyment and fun. Social supports are key to resilience and positivity. Focus on friends, family and community.
- Be in the moment: Mindfulness refers to paying attention in the present moment. When we are mindful we feel relaxed and are less likely to worry about the past or the future. Being mindful helps you savour each moment too. Being in nature is a great way of tapping into mindfulness.
- Be aware of your strengths: We all have a range of strengths from being curious to creative. So raise your awareness of them and use them. It feels good when we do so, and helps us to feel happier.
- Use problem-solving: It can help to identify what is troubling you and look at options for dealing with it. Choosing the best option (not necessarily the perfect one) and working out steps to achieve it can be useful.
- Tap into gratitude: There are always things to be grateful for. So appreciate others or the world around you. Expressing gratitude regularly helps you to feel more positive and to appreciate and connect with others. It also helps you to feel good about yourself.
- Know what you value: What is important to you in life? Living a life consistent with your values is more meaningful, and helps you to get in touch with your authentic self. And following your passions can bring you joy and satisfaction.
- Think optimistically: Humans tend to have negative thinking, so we need to foster more optimistic thinking. Sometimes we need to reframe events viewed as negative into opportunities e.g. for learning.
- Use humour regularly. have a joke and a laugh, watch a funny movie, and try to see the funny side of a situation. Humour helps us relax and feel more positive. Even a smile has a positive effect.
- Foster hope and acceptance: We all benefit from hope as it helps us reach our goals in life. We also need to learn acceptance that sometimes things don’t go to plan or feel uncomfortable.
With a New Year we often think about resolutions and goals. I have written about this in earlier blogs (see January, 2013). This year, go gently with your goals. Make sure they are reasonable, and maybe even start with just one!
Reflect and find the silver-lining
Right now is a good time to reflect on the year that has been and identify any silver-lining. Despite challenge or loss, humans have the capacity to find positives in a situation. This can take time, but it is possible.
I read this morning about someone in Melbourne who worked from home full-time, and in the time they would have been commuting, they took up pottery. By the end of the year, they were making some amazing things. Another baked bread every day. Many people got out into the garden and renewed their love of it.
Maybe a silver lining was slowing down, or recognising and appreciating the important things in your life, such as your health and loved ones. Let’s not lose these learnings, but bring them with us into 2021. There are still some challenges ahead, but we have the resilience to move forward.