Re­silience is key to adapt to change

Some com­mu­ni­ties have shown a re­mark­able abil­ity to bounce back after dis­as­ters, writes Si­mon Makker, of the NZ Red Cross.

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Backyard Banter -

With earthquakes, drought, floods and fires, many New Zealan­ders have had it rough over the past few years. It’s of­ten been a chal­leng­ing time, with some peo­ple hav­ing to deal with more than one ma­jor nat­u­ral dis­as­ter in quick suc­ces­sion.

While it’s com­mon to feel grief and sad­ness after these trau­matic events, ev­ery­one re­acts dif­fer­ently to a dis­as­ter. This de­pends on your ex­pe­ri­ence at the time, your so­cial net­works, psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing, the im­pact of sec­ondary stres­sors (deal­ing with in­sur­ance or in­fras­truc­ture dam­age), and the ex­tent that the dis­as­ter has al­tered the nor­mal day-to-day rou­tines of your life. All of these things can af­fect your abil­ity to bounce back from ad­ver­sity and ad­just to ‘‘the new nor­mal’’.

Dur­ing a door-knock­ing pro­gramme in neigh­bour­hoods af­fected by the Novem­ber 2016 earthquakes, New Zealand Red Cross found that some small com­mu­ni­ties such as Cul­ver­den and Ward have a re­mark­able abil­ity to pick them­selves up and con­tinue with their lives.

What’s their se­cret? How have the peo­ple in these com­mu­ni­ties de­vel­oped an in­her­ent abil­ity to adapt and ‘‘keep on keep­ing on’’ when things go south?

The an­swer lies largely with the R word – re­silience. Re­silience de­fines your abil­ity to con­tinue when life doesn’t go as planned. It’s about adapt­ing to chang­ing cir­cum­stances and evolv­ing to a dif­fer­ent way of life.

But be­ing re­silient isn’t just about your own abil­ity to over­come hard­ship; it also con­trib­utes to a health­ier com­mu­nity that’s bet­ter able to man­age and re­cover from emer­gen­cies.

One of the main keys is be­ing able to tap into your per­sonal strengths and the sup­port of whanau, friends, neigh­bours and com­mu­nity. Be­ing ac­tive in your sub­urb, town, vil­lage or dis­trict opens doors to con­nect with oth­ers and pro­vides a unique op­por­tu­nity to find out what makes your neigh­bour­hood tick.

Tak­ing care of your per­sonal well­be­ing and learn­ing tech­niques to bet­ter man­age stress can also go a long way to build­ing your re­silience.

Here are some tips that could help you bet­ter with­stand the waves when life throws up a storm.

De­velop cop­ing skills and prac­tise stress man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties such as yoga, ex­er­cise and med­i­ta­tion.

Eat a healthy, well-bal­anced diet. Get plenty of sleep. Main­tain so­cial con­nec­tions to peo­ple and groups that are mean­ing­ful for you, and join Neigh­bourly to get to know the peo­ple who live close by. Vol­un­teer in your com­mu­nity. Get train­ing in First Aid, CPR and Psy­cho­log­i­cal First Aid.

Cre­ate evac­u­a­tion and fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion plans.

Make a dis­as­ter kit and stock sup­plies for up to three days.

Reg­u­larly en­gage in things that bring you plea­sure and en­joy­ment.

It boils down to this: strong, re­silient in­di­vid­u­als build strong, re­silient com­mu­ni­ties.

Re­silience con­trib­utes to a health­ier com­mu­nity that’s bet­ter able to man­age and re­cover from emer­gen­cies.

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