Everyone has experienced hardship and struggle in life. If you find yourself in the role of caregiver, you likely know this to the very core of your being. The key to overcoming the difficult times is mental strength or resilience, a skill that can be developed and nurtured. This blog post will provide a journey to resilience, exploring the power of mental strength and how it can be used to achieve lasting growth and success.
What is resilience?
Resilience is a combination of physical, mental, and emotional strength and toughness that allows someone to cope with difficult circumstances and to remain confident and optimistic through setbacks, while exhibiting determination and a strong will to overcome obstacles. It is the ability to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of adversity, and to bounce back quickly from adversity and criticism.
Often, the caregivers I have seen have the most success in their roles, are the ones who are most resilient. Often this comes with maintaining gratitude, hope and a sense of humor. Because I have worked with thousands of family caregivers, I can generally know within the first 15 minutes of meeting someone if they have resilience, or if my role will be to help them to develop resilience.
That is right! Even if resilience is not your greatest trait right now, that doesn’t mean you cannot develop and even excel at being the person who can overcome life changing challenges and come out on the other side stronger, wiser and still able to HELP OTHERS!
How do you build resilience?
1. Identify Your Strengths: Make a list of the skills and qualities that allow you to cope with challenges and remain resilient. This could include problem-solving skills, self-awareness, determination, emotional intelligence, communication, empathy, and adaptability. While I understand this can sound a little weird or uncomfortable, but when you can see yourself for who you are, what you are capable of and how many problems you have actually come through, it gives your subconscious the tools it needs to strengthen your resolve.
2. Prioritize Self-Care: Take care of your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Incorporate healthy habits and activities into your daily routine such as getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercise, and connecting with people who support you. No one can be their best if they are exhausted. Take it from me. I’ve tried. I have more than once found myself working extra hours and taking on too much, in an effort to avoid feeling all the feelings that come along with being an adult! It is not healthy. It is the quickest way to burn out.
3. Develop Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative thoughts and beliefs with positive, empowering ones. Write positive affirmations and reminders that will help you stay focused during difficult times. When we are consistently saying or thinking “I can’t do this!” “This is too hard.” I’m not strong enough to deal with all of this.” We are essentially setting ourselves up for failure. When we say positive things to and about ourselves, even when we don’t yet believe them, we are shifting our perception and helping our brains to find ways to adapt.
4. Learn from Mistakes: Make failure and mistakes a learning experience. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, shift your focus to what can be done differently and find the strength to move forward. No one is perfect. No caregiver can predict everything that will come down the pike in life. Diagnoses change. Financial struggles come. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we fall on our faces. The best lessons in life are usually from failure. So give yourself grace, own your mistake and move forward.
5. Utilize Your Support Systems: Connect with people who can provide emotional and psychological support that is necessary for resilience. Reach out for help and advice from family, friends, and professionals. This can often be difficult, but if you have just one or two people who you know have your back, it gives you a lot of confidence to move forward. Also, if you have someone to talk about your fears, hopes and plans with, who is not going to judge you, it is SO beneficial. If you don’t feel like you have that person, pay someone! There are so many options for online or telehealth therapy, with or without insurance. You don’t have to leave home and often you can even use your phone! Having a safe sounding board will help. I promise!
6. Practice Mindfulness: Be more aware of what’s happening on the inside and outside. Observe your emotions and thoughts without judgment, and accept that some things are out of your control. If you catch yourself ramping up and your temper getting a little close to the edge, walk away, do some breathing exercises, step outside, or lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to. Just don’t let yourself get to a place where you lose control of your words or thoughts. When we let things escalate and we blow our top, it may feel like a release in the moment, but you may end up with hours and days of guilt and regret later.
7. Set and Work Towards Goals: Having goals and a purpose gives you direction and something to look forward to. Focus on achievable goals, break them down into smaller tasks and celebrate the wins. If you can accomplish 1 goal a week, then set a new goal for the next week, you will be amazed at the progress you can make. For example, maybe this week you just set a goal to take a 5 minute walk during your lunch break? Or take one hour to set up a budget and bill pay schedule? Or cook 1 meal using whole foods? Just do one thing for your short and long-term good and then DO IT! Your future self will thank you. Then at the end of the month, you will have hit 4 goals and feel amazing.
Does resilience really matter?
Yes, resilience really matters. Resilience is necessary in order to succeed in any endeavor. Resilience is the ability to understand and accept failure, learn from it, and take steps to recover and progress forward. Without resilience, it is difficult to sustain success for any extended period of time. Therefore, resilience is an essential component in order to persist and thrive in any endeavor, even being a family caregiver..
The power of resilience is immense and can be used to overcome difficult periods and achieve personal and professional success. Developing mental strength allows individuals to become more resilient in the face of adversity, ultimately ensuring the ability to take on the world with a new perspective and confidence.
Think about the areas you could use more mental strength in and explore the strategies mentioned in this blog post. Start applying them today and see how your life can be positively impacted by unleashing your own mental strength.
I hear all the time from friends, family and strangers “I don’t know how you manage everything and stay so positive.” Here is the absolute transparent truth. I have to CHOSE my attitude daily. What happened to Mark, to us as a married couple, was 100% not fair and was so unexpected. Life’s NOT FAIR. That is the bottom line. I can choose to roll over and be pitiful and there are endless people who would pity me and tell me how awful my life is and how I should just accept and live in this truth. I am not willing to let my life be a tale of tragedy and sorrow. Life is precious and short. I will work every single day to improve my life, Mark’s life and the lives of anyone who will listen.
You can too do this caregivers. I am not special. I do not have any kind of superpowers. I do know that staying in misery is much harder than working to get through it and celebrate my victories on the other side!