Resilience: Continuity, Connections, & Adapting

I have read several articles about resilience over the last few months.  Dennis Rensel defines resilience as “continuity and recovery in the face of change”.[1]  In March of 2020 our lives irrevocably changed. Lockdown was imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.  New York like many other states went into lockdown and “on pause”.  Our daily lives and routines were disrupted. City streets that were typically bustling with people became silent.  Businesses closed. Personally, I only ventured outside to go to my mailbox.  At the start of the Pandemic, I felt like I was living in the frame of a paused movie. 

Continuity is defined as maintaining an uninterrupted state of activity.  As days and then weeks passed after the initial lockdown, I found I maintained continuity by having a schedule and a routine. I woke up at a certain time.  I was fortunate that I could work from home.  I had phone calls to make and assignments to complete. I found myself applying principles from an article I read by Wendy C. Hildenbrand entitled “Let’s Start Here: Relationships, Resilience, Relevance.”  The article offers principles for adapting to change in personal and professional contexts. Ms. Hildenbrad’s article suggests that effective adaption includes developing and preserving social connections and relationships.[2]  Relationships in this context refer to family relationships, friendships, and acquaintances.

I had a list of people that I would contact and connect with on a regular basis. The connections could happen over the phone or over the computer.  I found that a simple ten-minute conversation provided me with a sense of relief, reassurance, and comfort. The topic of conversation was not as important as the connection.  In crises like the Pandemic social connections can help us to navigate through times of uncertainty and through fear of the unknown by offering mutual outlets of support and encouragement.

When the lockdown occurred, the healthy lifestyle I was trying to implement also went on pause.  I lost my resolve to eat healthy and exercise.  I felt a strong sense of apathy and indifference.  I needed time to recover my sense of purpose, focus, and determination. Staying connected to the people closest to me helped me to regain my sense of motivation to pursue my goals again. 

The experience of the Pandemic has brought up feelings of confusion, frustration, loss, and uncertainty.  Many of us are still trying to process the long-term effects and consequences that have resulted from the Pandemic. 

Ms. Hildenbrand’s definition of resilience includes the idea of “Persisting, adapting, and moving forward.”[3]  Resilience is about learning to positively adapt and respond to permanent changes including earth-shattering disaster, illness, separation, and death—but what do the principles resilience look like in practice?

The foundation of effective resilience and coping skills includes allowing for the space and time to process the breadth of changes that have occurred.  It includes developing and implementing positive strategies to take care of the mind and body.  Examples of positive coping strategies include practicing meditation, engaging in some form of exercise, and developing a network of social support.  

Continuity, connections, and relationships are important components of resilience.  There is a final component of resilience that I would like to introduce and emphasize.  Adapting to massive and permanent change means embracing a sense of hope despite facing adversity.  Hope emerges after a time of suffering.[4]  From hope, motivation is born. The combination of hope and motivation will support us to persist in times of doubt and uncertainty.

[1] Rensel, D. J. (2015). Resilience-a concept. Defense A R Journal, 22(3), 294+.

[2] Hildenbrand, W. C. (2019). Let’s Start Here: Relationships, Resilience, Relevance. AJOT: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(6), NA.

[3] Hildenbrand, W. C. (2019). Let’s Start Here: Relationships, Resilience, Relevance. AJOT: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(6), NA.

[4] Subandi, M. A., Achmad, T., Kurniati, H., & Febri, R. (2014). Spirituality, gratitude, hope and post-traumatic growth among the survivors of the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi in Java, Indonesia. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 18(1), 19+

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