Medicine Hat News

Forging ahead with resilience


For many of us, this has been an incredibly challengin­g year. At times it may feel like much of what is happening is beyond our control.

We know we can’t control unforeseen events such as COVID-19 just as we can’t control the weather. We cannot control what others around us are doing nor can we control the opinions or feelings of others. However, by focusing more on what is in our control we can take control of our mental wellness.

You may wonder what is in our control. Our thoughts, actions and behaviours as well as how we treat others may be impacted by the challenges we are facing but we can control all of these things.

If you are feeling overwhelme­d, it might be time to take stock of how you are taking care of yourself.

Eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep, and some sort of physical activity each day can go a long way to support mental wellness.

Engaging in hobbies and interests that you enjoy are also helpful actions to increase your sense of control.

When we focus on our overall well-being, we can improve our mental health and build our resilience (the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity). Like a muscle in our bodies, we need to commit to regular actions to support resiliency.

For many of us, this sustained, global pandemic has challenged our coping and, at times, depleted our resilience. What are some things we can do to restore resilience?

Think of one small thing you do every day to remind yourself that you do have control. This could be as simple as washing the dishes, going for a short walk or sweeping the floor.

This may seem insignific­ant but regular routines help to calm us during times of stress.

When we reframe these actions as a foundation to supporting our well-being, these activities of daily life can take on a more meaningful impact. You may not notice results immediatel­y but over time these actions will make a difference.

Another step you can take to foster resilience is committing to having at least one positive interactio­n each day.

While we are limiting our contact with others, this may seem like something you don’t have much control over. This may require some creativity.

We heard about a group of women who met through a yoga class and decided to create an online gratitude group. While they rarely see each other in person, participan­ts say their daily posts expressing one thing they are grateful for have brought great positivity to their lives.

Expressing gratitude, appreciati­on or humour with others can contribute to your resilience as well as those you are interactin­g with.

Whether it is online, via email or in-person, these positive connection­s over time help us feel a sense of control and offer us hope.

Reflecting on your past experience­s of overcoming challenges, big or small, can also restore resiliency. When we look back and see that we have been capable of overcoming past adversity, this can foster our confidence and supports us in how we meet current challenges.

Resiliency is not about perfect mental health. It is in challengin­g times that we can cultivate the most resilience. It is maintained with regular, meaningful actions. As Albertans, we have faced many challenges and together our efforts have contribute­d to our collective wellness.

We encourage anyone who needs support to also reach out to someone they trust, talk to a family member, friend, someone they can be honest with to talk through concerns.

Sometimes reaching out is too hard though. If you notice someone in your life who may be struggling, reach out to them. Offering support can include mentioning what you have noticed, listening to their concerns, and connecting them with some of the resources noted above.

Know that starting a conversati­on does not require you to be a counsellor or an expert . . . just a caring person, offering support and hope.

If you are in crisis, then we encourage you to connect with your healthcare profession­al or call 911 if it’s an emergency.

Michelle Sauve is a Health Promotion Facilitato­r with Alberta Health Services, in Prevention Promotion, with Addiction and Mental Health Services.

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