The "R" Word. 

Resiliency. The new buzz word Every crisis has one; we've had many during COVID. The "R" word has many meanings, depending on your perspective.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, resiliency is the "capacity to recover quickly from difficulties of substance, and to spring back into shape; elasticity." Interesting. 

"The Greatest Generation." 

Going back several generations, our parents/grandparents/greats, depending on our age, experienced the Great Depression and WWII.  These catastrophes went on for years and, in some cases, completely changed the course of impacted lives, and perhaps generations not yet born. Now that we have had six months of impact, fright, and uncertainty, we may have more insight into their generation's resolve, anxiety, and frugality. 

To quote a friend and mentor, Rev. Rona Tyndall of Gloucester, "we may all be in the same storm, but we are often in very different boats."  Our level of resiliency will depend on a great many factors. "DNA? Tough stock?"   

Many "Yankee" families are known for being stoic, probably a survival skill going back to the days before central heating, snow blowers, air conditioning, curbside meal pickup, and... Amazon.  

Another contributor to resiliency? Life circumstances.  It stands to reason that if you have never walked "three miles to school, with holes in your shoes, uphill both ways, in a snowstorm," and you find yourself waiting for a train in the rain, it might be challenging to cope. 

Life experience varies, even between siblings sharing DNA and growing up in the same family system.  Even twins can have very different perspectives and abilities to tolerate and function in discomfort.  We are unique and interpret and process our experiences, as only we can.   

Mental health experts link resiliency to "level of threat and vulnerability."  If we are vulnerable, we are unsafe. In our work at Aberdeen, with families facing serious and life-changing illnesses, we often work with clients and families facing this very challenge.  This experience of feeling unsafe often magnifies the threat beyond its actual impact.  The added "angst" turns up the heat on whatever problem we are facing.  Predictability is often the "secret sauce" that helps us manage.  This new time of uncertainty with COVID is like running the marathon, with no mile marker, no end to the race, and no way of knowing how far we have to go. 

We probably have a fair amount of resiliency if we've had life experiences that have challenged us.  

Hard experiences push us to grow, dig deep, and develop coping skills. We learn to use our resources and "figure it out."  If we haven't had these experiences, maybe we aren't "stuck" with our current level of "elasticity."  So, we aren't "elastic girl" from The Incredibles Perhaps we are more like a fragile, somewhat chewed up rubber band. Is there hope for us? 

Another definition of the "R" word is "protecting oneself from real or potential negative effects of stressors."  The word that jumps out at me is POTENTIAL It seems a standard process in any form of crisis is to jump to the "what ifs."  As if the actual situation is not enough to deal with and develop coping strategies, we are thinking and planning ahead.  

While this may be the "default" in your personal style, it's good to remember that you have a choice of response and mindset.  Planning can evolve to lingering worry and grows up to be supersized anxiety and fear, which we know creates fight, flight, or freeze. 

Focus on what we know to be true.  

  • Avoid the "hype."  So easy to find, and hard to dodge. 

  • Formulate your plan to minimize your risk.  We have the tools, and we know how to use them. 

  • Reaffirm your power.  You have been through gripping challenges in the past.  Draw on those skills.  

  • Appreciate your body, the "warrior against biological foes with superpowers to fight infection and keep you alive."  Treat it well.  Nurture and tend it. 

We are what we eat. 

Not only through our mouths, but all we take in.  All our senses bring "data" in that we then have to process.  If life's equivalent of "Breaking News" surrounds us, we become accustomed to the adrenaline triggers and unconsciously start to seek them out.  If we increase our awareness of what's "out there" and pay closer attention "how much gets in," we give ourselves a chance to slow down, step back, and reset. 

In the words of A. A. Milne, through the voice of Christopher Robin to his dear Pooh Bear, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." 

aberdeen, health, medicine, elder care