Sadly, given our current conditions, there are now many new barriers to success that did not even exist just a few short weeks ago. The parameters of life as we know it have changed drastically, forcing us to adjust. These adjustments are synonymous with real suffering for many, the very definition of trauma.
Trauma is not a new human experience and we know much about its impact. The result can be toxic stress. When adversity is unrelenting, the effects on health and well-being can be devastating, raising the risk for anxiety, depression, and many chronic health conditions.
We are all now at risk for the consequences of toxic stress.
Yet, adversity existed long before COVID-19, and the Step Forward partnership has been working to address its impact in our community for the past several years through the NWLA Thrive initiative. What we’ve learned can and must be applied as we all face this community-wide challenge.
There exists a powerful protective factor from toxic stress – resilience. Resilience is not a given; rather it is built from many contributing factors. The good news: building resilience is possible for anyone at any age and are some simple things we can all do toward this goal.
Our community needs resilience now more than ever.
We’d like to share a simple resilience to-do list with you. Doing these simple things can keep fear, anxiety and depression at bay during these uncertain times. Each of these strategies is well supported by research.
- Get plenty of sleep each day.
- Get moving. Get your heart rate up for at least 15 minutes each day by exercising, preferably outside.
- Get outside. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful nature around you.
- Do the things you enjoy. Complete a project. Give yourself permission to have fun. Fun is essential basic nutrition for your mental health.
- Practice a few minutes of mindfulness, meditation, or centered prayer each day. Slow, belly breathing (in through your nose and out through your mouth) is a good start.
- Give thanks. Identify some things each day you can appreciate and write them down. Some journal prompts you might use are “Today I will let go of…, Today I am grateful for…, and Today I am focused on…”
- Last but not least, connect and contribute. As you follow the important social distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the Louisiana Department of Health, get creative and use your phone, social media, facetime, or email to stay in touch. We are all aware of what is going on in the world, but I encourage you to bring your awareness closer to home. Check on your friends, family, and neighbors, especially our senior citizens. For those of us who have more than enough, now is the time to share in some way, and this can be as simple as offering a word of encouragement. By contributing to others, we are building resilience in them, and this human connection in turn, builds resilience in us. It is a win-win for us all.
Finally, if you need help during this uncertain time, please reach out. You are not alone and your community cares about you. If you don’t know where to get help, we invite you to go to our website at www.stepforwardnla.org to see a list of local resources that might be helpful. If you don’t see what you need, please fill out the comment box on our website and tell us how we can help. Please work with us to build resilience in yourself and your community, and together we will face each challenge as it comes.