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Your Resilience Tool Box for these Challenging Times

July 19, 2020 | by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

Three ways to build your inner strength when you feel your life is under attack.

The sky is the same gorgeous blue with the brilliant sun shining, but our world has changed.

I have never received so many emails filled with fear, sadness, and loneliness. What will be with school, work, the economy, relationships tottering and the health of our loved ones? Though we are united across the world through this pandemic, people have grown incredibly apart. It hurts to see the animosity. It hurts to hear the anti-Semitic rhetoric once again spewing forth and being ignored, even justified.

When we feel as if we are being pummeled from all sides, we must find the tools to get through the moment with strength. Resilience helps keep us going without losing ourselves in the process. People who maintain courage and grit can cope better when the waves of uncertainty crash over our heads. We discover the key to calm and fortitude as we build inner strength. We can adapt and move forward, recover from difficult experiences and navigate crisis. The key is our resilience tool box.

We can learn the skills needed to overcome adversity. Resilience is not something we are born with. Not everyone is lucky enough to have learned how to be ‘gritty’ from their parents.

Here are three tools to get through the tough times we are all facing.

1. Fuel Your Body

The Torah commands us to take care of our bodies because it is home to the soul. When we are stressed out we tend to ignore good health habits. We neglect ourselves. We eat junk. We stop exercising. We stay up too late. We lose our routine. We may dip into unhealthy behaviors or even addictions.

The first step is to give good fuel to our bodies so that we can think better. There is a strong connection between our health and our resilience.

*Don’t take your sleep for granted. Sleep bolsters immunity. When we lack a good night’s sleep we act cranky. We don’t make good decisions.

*Get into a good exercise routine. Exercise triggers feel-good endorphins, gives us a ‘pick me up’ and elevates our moods. Choose an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your day. Get moving.

*When we feed our body junk we get lethargic. A hungry brain cannot think clearly. Make wise food choices. Our body needs premium fuel to get through the difficult days.

Be kind to yourself.

2. Choose Positivity

We tend to focus on the bad experiences, somehow passing over the good. Our brain gets filled with the scary thoughts, the worries, and the ‘what ifs’.

The most resilient people don’t dwell on the negative. They replace the pessimism with realistic optimism. This means we accept what we cannot change and then challenge ourselves to think: What can I have control over and change? What new skill can I learn now? What can I do now that I have always wanted to do but never had the time? How can I redefine my marriage/parenting/relationships in a positive way? And what can I choose to focus on that is going right?

We can gain this skill by working on our own self-talk. Stay away from moments of blaming, complaining, and being a self-defeatist. Don’t spend your day judging the people in your life and calling them names in your head like selfish, obnoxious, or spoiled. Everyone has a positive trait. Challenge yourself to put your eye on the good instead of seeing that which frustrates you.

Throwing up our hands in frustration and living life as a victim is the path of least resistance. But what is gained?

Resilient people find a way to transform the pain into some type of gain. This does not mean we are happy with the situation. Rather, we find a way manage the moment and not become overwhelmed with what we are going through.

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes the pivotal moment in Auschwitz when he developed meaning therapy. He was worrying one day if he should trade his last cigarette for a bowl of soup. He wondered how he would work with a vicious new foreman. Suddenly he grew disgusted with his meaningless life. He realized that if he would survive this devastating darkness he would need to rediscover purpose to his existence. Frankl began to imagine himself giving lectures after the war, describing what he had been through. He created real goals for himself though he was not even sure if he would survive. That moment he was able to rise above his suffering. He went on to write “We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.”

Look toward the future. King Solomon said it beautifully. “Gam zeh yaavor – This too shall pass." Nothing lasts forever. The day will come when this difficult situation will, with God’s help, be over. Anticipate the good days that will return. Create goals. Look at the challenges as opportunities. Seek meaning in your days.

3. Rediscover Your Inner Core

We are here to build a legacy. Beyond these days is a spiritual imprint that we will leave in this world forever. We need to contemplate. Why am I here? How is this world better because I’ve existed? Whose heart did I touch today?

Tools common to resilient people are spiritual beliefs, connection to God, gratitude for the good in our lives, acts of kindness, and the quality of our relationships. Think of it as rings connected to one other, all revolving around the center circle which is your inner core.

Your spiritual beliefs will empower you. Your connection to God will fortify you. Gratitude will keep you grounded. Giving will bring meaning. The right friends and good relationships will buffer you. You will rediscover your inner core.

We have the ability to get through this. We can propel ourselves forward with strength. Every tool we have makes a difference.

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