Build Emotional Strength to Weather the Storm

The current pandemic has given us a lot to deal with in a short amount of time. Everyone’s lives have been affected in some way, and some more than others. Whether it’s social distancing, losing a loved one, job changes or financial troubles, our emotions are being put to the test.

But being emotional can be a strength. Why? It takes a strong person to process difficult emotions and work through them constructively. This trait, or the ability to adapt to and overcome setbacks that you face, is called emotional resilience. Becoming resilient can help you endure difficult times and come out on the other side stronger than before. And just like strength training builds muscle, you can practice this skill and become more resilient over time.

Read on to learn how some inner exploration, social support and healthy habits can help you become more emotionally resilient and overcome challenges big and small.

Understand Your Situation and Make a Plan

Take some time to explore the challenges you face and your reactions to them. It’s natural to feel frustration, anger and sadness when things aren’t going well. It’s ok to have these feelings, but it’s important to acknowledge them. Stressful situations are a part of life. It’s how you deal with them that can make you stronger or brings you down.

What are the problems you face? What are some things you can to about them? Write things out and make a list. This process gives you back a feeling of control. Even if you can’t accomplish everything on your action plan, just writing about and working through your problems can frame them in a new light. You’re also giving yourself constructive next steps for tackling your problems.

As you work on your list, practice keeping a positive attitude. Your adversity is a challenge, and you are strong enough to overcome.

Maintain Social Connections

Social distancing has made staying connected more difficult, yet more important than ever. A key part of emotional resilience is processing your emotions. When going through a tough time, it can really help to talk things out with someone else. It can also be comforting to know that you’re not going through things alone. Remember that this might be a tough time for your friends and family. They might benefit from a phone call too, so reach out!

As a bonus, maintaining relationships with friends and loved ones may even reduce your risk of health issues. So stay in touch with your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.

Here are some things you can do to stay connected:

  • Do activities over video chat or on the phone. Play games together or watch a movie in sync.
  • Plan a few virtual workouts, dinners or afternoon chats throughout the month.
  • Share how you feel with others. Offer emotional support when they do so as well.

Take Care of your Physical Health

Taking care of your body is also taking care of your mind—good physical health promotes good mental health. Emotionally resilient people find ways to maintain their healthy habits when things get tough, and those healthy habits can reinforce their resilience by improving their mood and combatting anxiety. Basically, it creates a nice, positive feedback loop.

You might not feel inspired to work out or eat a kale salad when you’re feeling down, and that’s ok. If you need it, take a few days off to curl up on the couch and relax. Then start to work some activity back into your schedule. Because exercise is a mood booster and stress reliever, you’ll start to feel the benefits right away. When you can, add some dark leafy greens, lean proteins or other nutrient-dense ingredients to your comfort food, because life is all about balance, after all.

Here’s some additional guidance to keep your physical health in tip-top shape:

  • Whenever possible, eat balanced meals. It can help to plan out your meals ahead of time. Whether you shop for groceries or order food, try to work in fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating healthy may also improve your long-term health and reduce your risk of getting chronic diseases, and it’s never too late to start.
  • Take steps toward better sleep. Sleep is a powerful thing. Regularly getting 7-9 hours of shuteye may help to reduce stress, boost your mood, improve your memory and learning and increase your emotional resilience.
  • Staying active not just improves your physical health, it can give you a boost of confidence. See if you can fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Remember to go at your own pace. Is a full workout session or dance class not your thing? Try something lower intensity like stretching, a yoga class or even just a walk around the block.