May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is a good time to refocus on mental well-being.
Over the past years, there has been significant events and traumas that has occurred throughout our society. Research has studied the effect of large-scale traumas and disasters on communities. Not only has this pandemic and other social issues increased mental health challenges for many of us, but we have also been given the opportunity to reflect, become more aware, practice and develop our flexibility and resilience.
Some people think of flexibility and resilience as traits one is born with (hardiness) or an outcome (presence of post-traumatic stress or growth), but in fact, resilience can be taught, learned and strengthened.
Asking yourself “what do I do when times get hard?” or “where do I derive the ability to make it through tough times?” reminds us of our personal skills and characteristics that we can use.
The question: “Who can I ask for help when times get hard and who can I help?” address our social supports and sense of connection, which help us not to feel all alone in any particular stuggle. Finally, asking ourselves “Who do I want to be when this is over and what will it have meant for me?” helps us to focus on a sense of meaning and purpose. Our contentment in life often has less to do with the circumstances going on around us and more to do with our focus and the narrative we tell ourselves.
Intermountain behavioral health experts have said to think of resilience like a balance scale where negative experiences tip the scale towards negative outcomes, positive experiences towards positive outcomes. Flexibility and resilience add weight to the positive side of the scale to keep our lives in balance or even tip toward the positive in the face of very negative experiences. Go do something you enjoy; if you can’t right now, then plan to do something as circumstances change, and make sure to include others in the planning.
If you need immediate help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at #988.
You can learn more about behavioral health at intermountainnv.org.