Resilient Like a Rubber Ball: How Will You Bounce Back?
As the world faces one of the most devastating diseases and the temporary remedy to keep it from spreading — quarantine, incidents of depression, anxiety and PTSD are on the upswing. Personal health and that of family and friends are at the top of most people’s lists of concerns. Financial instability, job loss, closing businesses, major change in activities, home schooling children, transitioning to working from home, are the practical considerations we are addressing.
The day to day news feed with information flying at us at the speed of thought, the overwhelming number of people who have contracted COVID-19 and those who have died from it assault our minds. Pre-existing mental health conditions are exacerbated, and therapists have noted an increase in the number of clients they are seeing. With what I call the marvels of modern technology, we are able to work with our clients via telehealth. It provides a sense of familiarity and comfort when the therapist is able to “visit” clients at home. I particularly appreciate that it gives me a sense of where they live. Teen clients have given me tours of their bedrooms, several clients have introduced me to their dogs and cats and others to their children, when they happened to wander in, needing the parent’s attention. Some have asked if we could continue using the platform after the office opens.
What several have acknowledged is that “self-solituding,” as I refer to it, is a breeze for them, since they are homebodies by inclination. Others notice that their social anxiety has diminished because they are in their safe haven. Children and adolescents who had performance anxiety find home schooling to be kinder to their sensitivities.
Those who miss time with their friends and family have made use of Zoom, FaceTime and texting to remain in contact. I, too, am grateful for those methods that make physical distancing (I don’t call it social distancing) more palatable. Daily contact with my son, daughter-in-law and now 3-month-old grandson is an emotional lifeline as I am sequestered on my own. As a social butterfly who thrives on interaction and physical contact, I too am experiencing the affects even while my body remains healthy.
What is the difference between resilience and strength?
Many cultures revere strength… gotta be strong… gotta stand firm, when in reality, flexibility and resilience are equally valuable. Nature provides us with powerful examples. When in the ocean, bending to the waves is less likely to get you knocked on your butt, than standing solid against the water. A willow tree that bends is more likely to withstand the storm than an oak tree that stands firm.
I had a firsthand experience of that many years ago. While leaving the grounds of the hospital where I worked, to go to lunch, in the midst of a September storm, the wind was whipping furiously. I parked the car by the admissions building to drop off paperwork. Before me was the lovely tree lined driveway where 50- to 60-foot tall oaks stood sentry. I had this fleeting thought: “Wouldn’t it be something if one of these trees came down?” …. BLAM! No sooner had that image crossed my mind, then one did just that right before my ever-widening eyes. I had a few simultaneous thoughts “Thank God no one was coming down the driveway at that moment,” and “Holy smokes, what did you do?” I knew on some level that I didn’t cause the tree to crash earthward, but realizing how tapped in we are all, I did take credit for being aware of the possibilities, at least on an unconscious level. While that tree uprooted itself, the nearby willow trees merely lost a few branches.
Entrepreneur and speaker Roger Crawford who wrote the book How High Can You Bounce? was born with congenital “challenges” such as missing fingers and his leg from the knee down, Roger became a champion athlete and for the past several decades has spoken worldwide to audiences mesmerized by his passion for life. I love his quote: “Challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional.”
I have come to understand that the statement “Most people do the best they can, given their circumstances.”, is incomplete. Rather, I see that “Most people do the best they are WILLING to do, given their current mindset/attitude/world view.” Each day, I see folks surpass their former beliefs of what is so and what is possible. We are being called on to do that more than ever.
In the midst of this worldwide crisis situation, I asked people to share their resiliency strategies. Here’s what they said:
“I am home with two of my kids, one an adult, the other a teen. We have instituted a family check in at 11, a family meal in the evening, I call my mom (who is in a retirement center) each evening around 6:30 and read her a short story that my kids listen to as well and we usually watch a movie together after that. Having a daily schedule helps us, we tried just winging it and we just kinda stayed in bed late, didn’t clean, got distracted and down. I am exercising every day at least a little. We are going to add a dance party at 5 to the mix as well. We laugh together a lot. We video chat with my oldest birth daughter. These things help to get us through.”
“My resilience is based on a combination of creativity and consistency. I have always crocheted blankets for various causes, and I like to get creative with them, so I still crochet blankets for various causes now. That bit of familiar consistency is something to fall back on and will endure for as long as my (admittedly large) yarn stash does.”
“Well I have been painting. I have an art degree but have a hard time settling down to paint because I have always had to work to make a living. The other thing is I’m asking questions rather than just taking what main-stream media has to say about this virus. I’m angry that they are fear mongers. I really feel in my gut something bigger is going on here.”
“Resiliency: chanting or singing psalms, going easy on myself, having a schedule, staying in touch with my family and friends. A very important one is knowing that there is another side to this, and we’ll get there, so I guess it boils down to hope. The end of Passover is when it is said that the Israelites crossed the sea of reeds, the sea of obstacles and Miriam and the women took their timbrels out and all the women danced. Keeping one’s eye on getting to the other side.”
“Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was labeled a ‘daydreamer’, a ‘flake’, an ‘airhead.’ ‘Head in the clouds.’ I was often focused on my inner thoughts. I had imaginary friends that I would talk to and have tea parties with. Now I find these very qualities are helping me with my isolation. I feel calm and seem to always find something interesting to read or learn about.”
These thoughts have helped me through the past five weeks. Just trust and learn to adjust. When you fall on your ass, sometimes what it takes to get up is Accepting Spiritual Support. In the face of tumultuous storms, I have learned to batten down the hatches, ride the waves, and weather the winds of change. Those things have kept me from drowning. When the tempest has passed, I celebrate the sun. I look forward to ‘celebrating the sun’ with a joyful reunion with family and friends.
Who will you be on the other side of this? How high will you have bounced?
Weinstein, E. (2020). Resilient Like a Rubber Ball: How Will You Bounce Back?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/resilient-like-a-rubber-ball-how-will-you-bounce-back/