Monday, October 17, 2016

Weebles Wobble, But They Don't Fall Down - the importance of resiliency

 Are you one of those people who can handle any adversity that comes your way?  Or have you noticed that sometimes you get kicked in the teeth and get back up again - and sometimes you don’t?  

Resiliency is a trait that some of us have in spades, but there are times when all of us wobble more than we would like.  Interestingly, it can’t always be measured by the size of the crisis.  In fact, I remember my mom was rock-steady during the “big issues” but had a hard time dealing with everyday hurdles.

Resiliency is developed through childhood support and experiences.  And yet, we’ve all known someone who was raised in a very challenging environment, who is extremely resilient – and vise-versa.    We know people who have been raised in “good homes” with strong support of parents who lead by example.  Even so, we can site examples where those folks can’t deal with even the small problems of life.  Factors may also be genetic and even hormonal.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to figure out who will turn out to be resilient and when resiliency will show itself or falter.

It’s important to realize that even the strongest person will have times, when their confidence, positive attitude and drive may lessen.  Of course, as a counselor, I am supposed to tell you it is the time to see a counselor – and of course, that is an option.  But just recognizing the problem, dissecting the reasons for it, and asking for support from friends and loved ones may get you through. 

The first step is to check your physical health.  Thyroid problems, hormonal issues, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, etc. can all cause us to feel less able to handle life’s problems.  The second step is to evaluate your responsibilities.  If you are the person everyone believes can handle “it all” – let me be the first to tell you, you can’t!  Are you taking care of children, of parents, of a job, of pets, of volunteer activities, of all your friends, of all your pets, of your house?  Even you may have taken on too much!

“No” is an extremely healthy word.  And “I need some help” is an even healthier phrase.  It is okay to ask more and expect more of your spouse, children, siblings and friends.  Honestly, the people around you may have gotten lazy and comfortable knowing you will take care of things.  But they love you – and will help you – if you let them know you need it.

And yes, the dreaded exercise is necessary.  Even when you are tired and have no energy, it must happen.  It does make you feel better.  You know it, and I know it.  Along the same lines, you have to look at what you are eating and drinking – too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol?  Not enough veggies and fruits?  Take it from me – I am a chocolate fiend and hate most vegetables.  When I catch myself letting good habits slip, I have to look at what I am consuming and do an about-face.  I hate to exercise but know when I don’t do something 4-5 days a week, my energy level and ability to deal with stress go down, dramatically. 

Conversely, you must take time for down-time. Whether it is reading a book, seeing a movie, going to yoga classes, painting a picture – whatever activity works for you – take time to calm down – re-set yourself – daily, if possible, a few times a week, at a minimum.

And yes, after all that, or in conjunction with it, don’t’ be afraid to get some help from a mental health professional.  We all need a little help, now and then.   It is not weak to ask for help – from friends, family and/or professionals.  It is actually a sign of strength – yes – of resiliency!