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Emotional Wellness: What's in Your Resilience Toolkit?

October is almost over, which means the holidays are ahead, cold weather looms for many, and the days are getting shorter. It’s a good time to take stock of the tools we have to care for our emotional wellness during the winter days ahead. And as we continue to face the pandemic’s ongoing challenges, caring for our emotional wellness will be even more essential this season. In this blog, we discuss how to tap into our resilience by strengthening five key elements to help us successfully weather—and maybe even thrive—in the days ahead.

We hear a lot about resilience these days as coronavirus cases rise, and our resolve is starting to wear thin. Simply put, resilience is our ability to deal with adversity and recover quickly after experiencing a challenging time. You might think of it as the skills you need to pivot from one difficult situation to another, and then do it again. Some even call it “emotional fitness.”

Certain people are naturally more resilient than others, which often has to do with their childhood experiences, ability to perceive they have control of a situation, and the availability of a good support system. But research shows that people can be taught resilience, too. It all has to do with the behaviors, thoughts, and actions we have every day, and being mindful of how we approach challenges.

These five key elements can help build resilience.

Resilience won’t increase overnight, but taking small steps every day can help you grow tremendously over time. Here are five things you can do to help improve your resiliency:

1. Stay socially connected.

One hallmark of highly resilient people is that they lean on family and friends when the going gets tough, rather than isolating themselves in dark times. Having a network of social connections helps validate our feelings and lets us know we’re not alone. And, as we know, loneliness is linked to all sorts of health risks, including depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. If you feel yourself wanting to isolate more in the upcoming months, try seeking out and surrounding yourself with a group of supportive people.

2. Cultivate an optimistic attitude.

It’s not easy to remain positive when things aren’t going well. But by consciously adopting a glass-is-half-full attitude, you can begin to reframe a negative situation. It’s also important to remind yourself that you have faced difficult times before and can do it again. It may not be easy to remain positive at first, but keep trying. Being able to adapt when challenging times happen can help us stay happy and healthy in the long run.

3. Make time for self-care.

The physical aspects of self-care include a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. But we should also nourish our emotional side with things we enjoy—like watching a favorite show, spending time outside, savoring a hot cup of tea, or seeing a friend. While you’re at it, remember to prioritize good sleep habits this season, as well. A good night’s rest can benefit our mental state and coping abilities, as well as reduce physical risks like high blood pressure.

4. Have a sense of purpose.

Research shows that having a sense of purpose in life is associated with a lower risk of death and better physical and mental health. This quality strengthens our resilience by helping us stay grounded in what is truly meaningful to us. Consider what gives you purpose and make time for it daily—spending time with family, volunteering for a cause you care about or pursuing a hobby. Just feeling that there is something out there bigger than you is critical.

5. Seek help when you need it.

Sometimes our pride and desire to maintain a stiff upper lip prevent us from getting help when we need it. Whether it’s from a coworker, family member, or trained counselor, asking for assistance is essential to strengthening resilience. You can also be a helper for others who may be looking for support. Sometimes, helping someone else go through a hard time can help us feel significantly better, too.

Increasing resilience is good for us as individuals, and it benefits the workforce, too.

There is growing agreement among employers that mental health conditions directly impact productivity, revenue, retention, and workplace morale. And the data backs this up: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that depression causes 200 million lost workdays per year. The World Health Organization claims that depression and anxiety disorders cost $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

So, focusing on mental health in the workplace makes smart business sense. At WebMD Health Services, we help clients increase resilience in their workforce through our partnership with meQuilibrium. Built right into the WebMD ONE platform, the program assesses strengths, vulnerabilities, and personality types to help participants gain insight into actions they can take to strengthen their resilience every day. It’s a win-win for participants and their employers.

How I work on my own resilience.

We are all experiencing the current uncertain times in our own ways. I find that I am more resilient if I focus on the things in my life that I have control over, rather than the things I don’t. It helps me so much to let everything else flow by, so I don’t spend time, energy, and worry on the things that are out of my hands. Instead, I can concentrate on the things I can change. Another way I try to build my resilience when I feel run down is to take a break from external “noise,” like social media or the news. I find if I take a couple of days off, I can engage again, feeling more refreshed.

There may never be another time in our lives when our collective emotional wellness is so challenged. But, practicing what we’ve just preached, we can view it as an opportunity to learn and take control. Whether we become more aware of actions that increase our resilience or engage in a formal program, this is one emotional wellness tool that will always serve us well.

If you would like more information about incorporating resilience training into your well-being strategy, contact us at connect@webmd.net.

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