Unhealthy Relationships Given that November is both National Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th), we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk about unhealthy or toxic relationships and domestic abuse. At the core of healthy relationships you can feel safe, respected, and accepted
September: A period of transition September is a time of transition in many various ways. As we gently say goodbye to summer, we gradually get back to our routines. This can be in regards to work, school, or just our daily normal activities. We transition from a more flexible schedule to something more structured. While
As the world around us slowly starts to reopen we may still find ourselves feeling fatigued, frustrated, burned out, or in some ways very anxious. Navigating through this pandemic has not been an easy feat for any of us. Let’s discuss the impact of this long-term stress on our resilience and how we can build it back up again.
What is resilience? According to the American Psychology Association (APA) it is “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” Essentially resilience is our ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult life situations.
While some of us were fortunate enough to be born with more resilient protecting factors such as stable housing, safe schooling, low parental discord, parents that attended to a child’s needs, etc., some of us entered into a difficult time with low resources to begin with. It is important to note that we all deal with different challenges throughout the course of our lives and that that will take a certain amount of resilience to help us bounce back or recover. Any stress uses our resources and resiliency. When we have time to recover and invest back into our resources we continue a high level of resiliency. However, chronic stress, such as living through the uncertain and difficult time of a global pandemic, uses all our resources and drains our resiliency. It empties our tank and makes coping with difficult as well as regular life situations harder.
Perhaps you noticed you increased or developed unhealthy coping strategies such as shopping, eating, or alcohol/drug use. You may have had changes in mood such as anxiety and depressive symptoms or feeling irritable and snapping at others for seemingly no reason. It’s possible you felt tired, fatigued, less energy to get through your day. Perhaps you experienced something else related to a lack of resiliency. You are not alone. This difficult time used it all up and made it harder to get back up and get back out there.
Researchers have studied the topic of resilience for decades and studies have shown that there seems to be 3 common trends amongst people who tend to have increased resiliency. That is to say those who always seem to “float” through life – and seem to be less impacted and recover more easily from hardship. Here are three of the commonalities of these resilient strong characters.
- More resilient people are very much aware of the fact that bad things can, and unfortunately sometimes do, go wrong. This is not to say that they welcome adversity, just that they are aware of potential problems.
- They choose to focus their attention on things they can change and spend less time on what is out of their control. Resilient people have a tendency to give credence to perceived stressors all while still giving weight to the good in their environment – this is called “benefit finding”. It’s about making an intentional on-going effort to tune into the good.
- They regularly check in with themselves and ask “Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?” For example “is the way I’m thinking and acting going to help me recover from that heart attack?” or “am I acting in a way that will help me get that promotion at work?”. By asking this simple question, it helps center oneself and refocus on what matters to them.
Keeping this resilient attitude in mind, what are some ways you can rebuild the resiliency that has been depleted? Here are some resources and resiliency building strategies we are seeing in recent weeks:
- Staying connected and sharing how you are doing with others that care about you.
- Taking care of the basics – getting enough sleep, food, and rest. Take naps. Relax.
- Limiting and even cutting out unhealthy coping strategies that further drain our resources.
- Try the Headspace guide to Meditation on Netflix
- Tara Brach has a lot of free material. Try the 40-day Mindfulness program at https://courses.tarabrach.com/courses/mindfulness-daily (only 10 minutes a meditation and is self-guided)
- Mantras that are nourishing and affirming
- “I will get through this”
- “This too shall pass”
- “I can take care of myself during this difficult time”
- Do some fun things at whatever your energy level is.
- Allow yourself to be tired and to attend to the fatigue. Stop trying to push through and get everything done.
- Managing expectations. Matching my ‘to-do’ list with my energy level rather than expecting I can do as much as before.
- Self-compassion – life it hard enough right now, stop adding to the pile by beating yourself up. Become your own ally.
Don’t forget – resilience is not a character trait that has been set in stone. Rather, it is about regular willingness, effort and mindfulness.
Wishing you all a wonderful rest of the summer. Remember to be kind to yourselves.
All the best,
Émilie Rose Casey
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
― Maya Angelou
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
“Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.”
― Sharon Salzberg
Important things you need to know about: Parent and Children School Anxiety Amid The Pandemic By: Hagit Malikin McGill Master’s Student and Researcher with Childhood Anxiety and Regulation of Emotions (C.A.R.E) Research Group September marks the official beginning of a new school year. During “normal” times, going back may be filled with some worries
Important things you need to know about: The Benefits of Leisure, recreation and Play By Alex Lorimer-Carlin EPC Student Intern You have been asked to isolate at home as much as possible over the past few months, and potentially even work and educate from home. “Pandemic fatigue” is a developing phenomenon that many of us
Important things you need to know about: Anxiety and the COVID-19 Pandemic By Alex Lorimer-Carlin and Hagit Malikin, EPC Student Interns Welcome back to this month’s edition of Evolution Psychology Center’s blog. Since the beginning of March, all we heard on the news, from our family and friends, and even social media, was dedicated
Important Things You Need To Know About: Breaking the Stigma By Alex Lorimer-Carlin, EPC Student Intern Winters in Canada are tough, but we’re almost through the worst of it now! With the spring, we’re looking ahead to a bright and warm few months, with much on the horizon. Notably, mental health week in Canada (https://mentalhealthweek.ca/)
Important Things You Need To Know About: Keeping the momentum going – What are your goals? By Alex Lorimer-Carlin, EPC Student Intern As the new year proceeds around us, some of us may feel a bit of drag or friction, as though we’re losing the drive for our New Year’s resolutions, or maybe just succumbing
Important Things You Need To Know About: The Benefits of Gratitude to your Mental Health By Alex Lorimer-Carlin, EPC Student Intern With the holidays having just wrapped up, things are slowly returning back to normal. You may have seen friends and family, gone to (or even thrown) parties and holiday events. You may have exchanged
Important Things You Need To Know About: Managing Holiday Stress By Alex Lorimer-Carlin, EPC Student Intern This month, we’re going to focus in on an important topic; managing holiday stress. Stress can cause us some problems around the holidays, be it spending time with difficult family members, not feeling like there is enough time to
Important Things You Need To Know About: The Mental Health Benefits of Being Kind By Alex Lorimer-Carlin, EPC Student Intern For many of us, we have multiple social interactions in a day, with strangers, co-workers, family, and friends. We navigate different personalities, different moods, and a variety of potential outcomes for each of these interactions,