Resilience carries us through difficult, emotionally stressful times. Whether we’re facing grief over the loss of a loved one, anger and frustration with a situation we can’t change, or generalized anxiety and worry about the unknown, our minds and bodies suffer the consequences.
When faced with these challenges, sometimes we forget we have a choice in how we respond. We can strive to overcome the obstacle or let it overcome us. Hope over fear! Courage over cynicism! These may sound like campaign slogans, but they really can help rally us to resilience, even during the most challenging times.
(Please Note: There are times when injustice, oppression, and exploitation need to be addressed and ended, with commitment and work from those in positions of power and privilege. I am not suggesting that resilience applies in all situations.)
While it may be difficult to regain our strength and equilibrium, we must remember that we’re rarely alone in this process. We not only have our inner resources, but we may also find our friends, family, animal companions, nature, spirituality, and creative endeavors help rebuild ourselves.
Below are 6 tips for developing resilience that you can practice during difficult times. We invite you to use these suggested resources to carry you over the hurdles you face in life and as an educator and/or activist.
- Read inspirational literature and poetry. Great writers translate our humanity into words that heal, inspire, and uplift. Some of my favorites are Mary Oliver, Brené Brown, and Toni Morrison, but find whoever speaks to you and read their words to soothe and motivate you. This clip of Maya Angelou reading her poem, “Still I Rise” always works to raise my spirits.
- Listen to music with a message. Music has often been the backdrop of social movements, from Woody Guthrie’s protest songs to Civil Rights era spirituals and hip hop anthems of Black Lives Matter. In 2015 Joan Baez came out of retirement to record the song “The President Sang Amazing Grace” as a way to heal after one of the many mass shootings in this country. Her animated music video is chillingly beautiful.
- Spend time in nature. If you’re finding the burdens of the world too much to bear, try disconnecting from technology and connecting with nature. Even a 15-minute mindful walk that engages your senses can be healing. Research in the emerging field of eco-psychology identifies immersion in the natural world as essential to our overall wellbeing. If you can’t get outside, try decompressing with this brief animated video of the life of flowers.
- Create art. You don’t have to be an artist to make art! Art can be any form of creative expression: plating food, arranging flowers, organizing a workspace, even putting together an outfit. Here’s a fun list of 10 Art Projects for Adults put together by Artists Network that you can try. If you’re still skeptical about your artistic ability, tour a museum and imagine the possibilities.
- Embrace community. Even though our inclination may be to retreat when we feel overwhelmed and are struggling, there’s no need to go it alone. Who in your life can you turn to for companionship? Seek them out. When self-care isn’t enough, take advantage of community care.
- Never give up. Resilience can require time, patience, and effort. If you have doubts, just watch this brief video of a young boy named Arat who has trained as a gymnast and is determined to conquer the obstacle placed in front of him. While the box jump may not be for everyone, the motivation it inspires can certainly guide us all.