May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Guest blogger, Lisa Sanger Blinn, LMSW, the Project Outcomes Lead for Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities offers practical tips to help you grow your resiliency.
The past few years have been tough for people living in Harris County. Weather disasters and the pandemic have made life feel scarier and more uncertain than we previously imagined possible. Tapping into our inner strength and resilience has been difficult as stress and anxiety have risen.
Resilience, defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties,” is developed through practice and the addition of skills that help you to adapt and continue functioning, both physically and psychologically. Resilience does NOT mean that you must figure things out on your own or pretend you are not angry or grieving. In fact, recognizing when getting help from others is a key part of being resilient.
We can all learn to become more resilient. Here are six tips that can help you get started on the road to greater resilience.
Take care of yourself. To help others, you need to help yourself first. Get enough sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Move your body in a way that makes you feel good every day. Make time for hobbies that you enjoy. Stress is both physical and emotional, so it is essential to nurture your body and your mind to reduce the impacts of anxiety and depression.
Watch your self-talk. Negative thinking is natural when we are afraid, or we feel vulnerable. However, our minds cannot always tell the difference between a truly dangerous moment and an imagined one. Listen for negative comments about yourself in your mind. When you hear them, actively replace them with positive ones, for example, “I’ve got this,” “I can figure this out,” or “I’m good at this.”
Build community. Knowing your neighbors can provide you with strong supports in good and bad times. Volunteering or being part of a faith community helps you build networks of like-minded people. Staying in contact with positive loved ones and friends acts as a protective factor when you find yourself in crisis. Your connections with others remind you that you are not alone when difficulties arise.
Avoid comparison. In the era of social media, it can be difficult not to compare your life to what you see other people posting and sharing. Instead, focus on your life and what goals you would like to achieve. Be proud of what you are learning and doing in your life and build towards the future you desire.
Value your experiences. You have coped with hardships in the past and you have developed unique skills that assisted you. Identify the positive behavior patterns that you utilized to overcome difficulties. Making a list of your own special strategies can help you to react more easily when a challenge arises.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When challenges arise, it is natural to need support from friends, family, and community. Reaching out for someone to listen to your situation or to help you figure out what your next steps might look like is a sign of strength. Realizing that no one has all the answers is key to developing greater resilience.
If you or someone you know is looking for emotional support, please contact the COVID-19 Support Line through phone: 1-833-986-1919 or text: 832-479-2135.
Lisa Sanger Blinn, LMSW, is the Project Outcomes Lead for Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities. The project, facilitated by The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD and funded by Harris County using American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, is a focused initiative providing tools and training so community members can better support each other while increasing resiliency and emotional wellness. For the latest information on the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org