The Oxford definition of resilience is “the capacity to withstand, or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”
While that all sounds well and good how does this apply to our daily lives? We are inundated with bad news, toxic division, and any myriad of personal problems. Our culture has become one of entitled apathy. Many youths have lost hope and just don’t see the point in forging ahead or blazing a new path.
Our day-to-day moment-to-moment actions matter.
This became apparent to me on yet another Valentine’s Day as a single woman, something that causes great shame and a deep sense of emptiness and isolation.
For those of us with PTSD, depression, and anxiety tendencies it often doesn’t take much to spin the downward spiral. It’s almost like this other being takes over our bodies and minds. Yes, we all know we need to manage and redirect our thoughts, feelings, and reactions, but let’s be real. This is often harder said than done.
So where does resilience play into this experience?
Another single Valentine’s Day to me was just a constant reminder of bad, deep-seated feelings. I knew it was coming and despite my efforts to try and just keep moving it was easier to just go to bed. It didn’t help that I hadn’t slept well the night before (sleep is crucial to a healthy mental outlook.)
With so much to be grateful for, no one beat me up more than I did for feeling so desperate. Sleep seemed the only coping mechanism. Resilience came in the form of the simplest actions. Thank goodness my diabetes doesn’t take a break and needs constant management. I had to get out of bed to take some insulin so my blood glucose would stay within range.
They say that changing your state or environment is a huge factor in getting out of a funk. As far down as I was, I went to the computer instinctively knowing I needed social interaction. Working alone at home day after day tends to exacerbate the isolation. I booked an exercise class in a local fitness studio, something I have feared these past months due to back and hip injury that is in treatment.
Having acted, I decided to run an overdue errand. It was a spectacular Florida day and sunshine is also known to be a great elixir for many ills. With some minor accomplishments off the list, I was now in “I’m just going to go for it” mode. I sent an email about a work inquiry I had been putting off for fear of a self-imposed negative response.
I made it to exercise class. While I had to modify many of the exercises it sparked both my body and my mind. As a lifelong dancer and group fitness instructor, so much of my life has been spent in a studio of one kind or another. It is a safe and happy place. These actions took the focus off the constant pain of being single and onto what was possible. My situation hadn’t changed but by literally moving ahead the angst lessened.
This is not a new concept, but it got me thinking about what it means to be resilient.
When have you just wanted to give up and go to sleep? What situations feel so utterly hopeless you just don’t want to bother anymore? For those of us prone to a depressive state it’s tough to get out once the dark cloud comes over our heads. But as they say, winter always turns to spring. The rain always stops, and the sun comes out, even when we don’t think it will.
Resilience, in this case, is not some grand gesture or huge accomplishment. Rather, it is the courage and inner knowing to take one small action towards progress. The pain may remain, but the hope is revived, and with hope comes possibility. As we work to live resilience, let’s take one action contrary to whatever negativity we battle. Over time the results in our daily lives will compound in ways we could never have imagined.