Sheltering from the storm of the virus seems to be the prevailing strategy.
“Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm”
I confess I am not a huge Dylan fan. In my opinion, Bob Marley is music’s poet laureate, but Dylan’s lyrics serve the purpose here though. At least, here is how I choose to interpret his words for this blog. “She” in my mind, is grace.
Sheltering with Grace
Grace is exactly what we all need now as we continue to choose to shelter at home. One of the more nuanced ways resilience can help us become more poised when we shelter, or when we are dealing with any adversity, is by having the courage to move on. We do this despite our fear, dread, and feelings of uncertainty. This form of grace is available to any of us.
It’s hard to be grateful right now. Viruses, riots, political volatility are a major part of most, if not all, of our lives now. This is on top of our already increased collective mental health challenges which have been escalating in number and severity for years. How does one find grace in all of the mounting sobering news? One way is through learning and consistently practicing resilience strategies and mindfulness techniques. This is not easy or everyone would be doing these things more often. So what comes first, the resilience or the mindfulness?
Resilience and Mindfulness can help with sheltering
Though these two concepts are interconnected, and ultimately weave in and out of each other by supporting and reminding us to employ them, establishing some mindfulness skills is a great place to start. As we say in many of our blogs and classes, one does not have to sit and formally meditate. We can lie down, walk, garden, shower, cook, wash dishes, parent, and at the same time, be mindful. The key is understanding that developing a practice can be as simple as learning to stay in the present and be with your thoughts. This means concentrating on whatever you are doing at the moment. If you are washing a dish, you are thinking about the warmth of the water on your hands, the shiny dish coming clean. Your are not thinking about future or past events, but this is hard. That being said, the more we practice bringing ourselves back to the moment the easier it gets to do. Practicing staying in the present moment is training for mental fitness.
Much like going to the gym, the more we practice staying in the present, the more we can push ourselves through difficulty and resistance. This is a way to help our mental fitness improve.
Sheltering and starting new healthy habits
Many of us sheltering at home may have the time and opportunity to begin exploring our strategies that support resilience. A great place to start is by re-examining times in your life when you have been resilient during a difficult or challenging situation or life challenge. As you look back, remember what helped get you moving forward again. Can you apply some of these strategies again to help you through these unprecedented times? You probably needed other people to help you stay buoyant. This can prove to be challenging when isolating.
This is where the mindfulness part comes in. Perhaps you have a meditation practice and you are already using it to help with stress. That is great, keep up the good work. If you are new to mindfulness, I suggest committing to trying it. You may not immediately notice the benefits. But what if I told you it can help you with focus and concentration? It can also relax you and help you tolerate unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Would you try it then? Cultivating a mindful mindset helps us carry ourselves with insight and awareness in most any situation. Emphasizing our sense of resilience comes naturally when we utilize both skill sets together.
Now back to how to shelter with grace. With practice, even as little as 10 minutes a day, you can increase your ability to be more mindful of yourself and others. This is not only useful when we have to shelter but also a great transition tool when we are ready to venture out into the world again. Good self-care will help you become reintegrated into your community, armed with grace, can help others who are still struggling with the immensity of their situations.
The best part about resilience, in my opinion, is cultivating not only our inner life but sharing with others. There is plenty of healing to be done in a world drowning in adversity. Cliche as it may sound, we are no good to others if we are not taking care of ourselves. As we all begin to heal, there is an opportunity to heal our communities, so that they become resilient communities. We will be ready for the inevitable future adversity as well.
For a deeper dive into how to develop and cultivate resilience and mindfulness practices, we offer courses through our website resiliencetree.com. If you or someone you care about is interested in this and you have additional questions, we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim McElrath, LCSW-R is a licensed mental health therapist in the state of New York