Emotional resilience: What is that?
Emotional resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult moments. Emotional resilience can be higher or lower for different people at their baseline. But emotional resilience can be developed, built, and strengthened. Obviously, there are many elements needed to improve emotional resilience and no magic fix, but let’s start with some easy-to-reach-for ideas to strengthen your resiliency today.
Take your vitamins!
Just as essential nutrients keep your body strong and healthy, there are methods—or “vitamins”—that can keep you emotionally strong, too.
Boost your emotional resilience with Vitamin P, which stands for pleasant. Incorporating pleasant experiences into your life leads to increased emotional health. Mindfully participating fully in those experiences is important here! If you are short on natural sources of Vitamin P, you’d best go pick some up!
Vitamin P is found wherever you decide to build it in. Love to paint, write, swim, or listen to a shiur? Schedule the things that give you pleasure into your day or week. It can be as simple as doodling or as complicated as painting your masterpiece… if you schedule it in. Love music and singing? Schedule in a concert, time in the car with the music you love, or simply singing in the shower. Like to exercise? How about the gym, a walk, or a home-exercise routine?
It need not be formal nor lengthy if that is unrealistic for you. A hug, a laugh, or a quick call to someone you love are all experiences that make the world a more inviting place in which to live. As long as it works for you and gives you a sense of pleasure, you’re getting your Vitamin P.
Whatever your choice of Vitamin P, get the most of your dose with this caveat: Be fully mindful throughout the experience. For the time you slotted for ingesting Vitamin P, throw yourself into the moment entirely. Allow yourself the awareness that you are giving yourself this pleasure. Finally, while involved in your pleasure of choice, put aside worries. Shelve thinking about what else must happen when the experience ends, and don’t dwell on wondering if it is “deserved”. Because building your emotional health is the best gift you can give yourself and those around you, too!
Let’s move on now to Vitamin M, which is what we call “building mastery”. Set a challenging goal, both difficult and achievable, and then get out there and accomplish it. When you hear yourself thinking thoughts like, “Wow, look at what I’ve done! Look at what I’ve accomplished!” or “Check me out!”, you are boosting this vital emotional nutrient.
Set those goals and meet them. Bake a cake, learn an instrument, or become fluent in a foreign language. Learn a sefer and make a siyum. Make that call that you’ve been pushing off or attack the closet for Pesach.
You know the best way to get out there and find the best challenging goal for you to meet. When you find yourself saying with satisfaction, “Look! I did that!” you’ll be another notch up on your level of emotional resilience.
Remember, it can’t be easy, or it won’t give you that sense of accomplishment. And if it’s impossible, it won’t happen. It’s got to be in the DIFFICULT range to get in the Vitamin M. And, same as with all the emotion vitamins, mindfully throwing yourself completely into that experience of accomplishment is vital.
The final element in our daily intake is Vitamin V, for values. Daily value-driven action builds meaning and purpose into our routine, another positive jump in emotional resilience. So many of us are involved in valuable efforts of one sort or another in life, and then ignore those meaningful endeavors as they get swept up into the daily grind. Also, many people do things that they “should” do that don’t necessarily reflect their personal values. The potential for value-driven investments and actions are vast. Whether saying “Modeh Ani” in the morning, building a meaningful career, being available to loved one, or volunteering, the possibilities are endless. But the only way Vitamin V will be properly absorbed into our emotional framework is if we are mindful of the values, we are aligning our actions with.
To be properly fortified with Vitamin V, give some thought to your values, and choose one value you will consciously work on now. Go ahead and think this through - try it! Now that you have your set value, identify some goals you can set directly related to your chosen value. Now for taking your daily dosage… take a daily step toward meeting a value-related goal that you’ve just identified.
Pesach is fast approaching. Holidays are a wonderful time for many, but the changes they bring to the status quo are often accompanied by higher stress and stronger emotional triggers. When we are emotionally fragile, we may get overwhelmed and tend to feel perpetually bogged down, like there’s an extra weight on our shoulders. Building your emotional resilience can help with managing these challenges, so start today and take those vitamins!