Learning about resilience and how to build it

Zahra talks about how having many responsibilities made the pandemic even more challenging, and how she learned about resilience. She talks about how building connections, realistic goal setting and practicing coping skills such as mindfulness helped her to better cope with her challenges.

Zahra discusses what resilience means to her and how she managed to build resilience and hope throughout the pandemic.

Video transcript

Hi, I’m Zahra and I’m going to be talking to you about what resilience means to me and how I managed to practice and hone resilience and gain hope throughout the pandemic.

Lately, I think many of us have experienced a negative impact on our mental health to a varying degree, with so many unpredictable changes happening so fast, this is not unlikely.

I personally experienced a fear of the unknown, doubts of my capabilities and at one point, a complete loss of control, routine and structure.

I started to feel helpless, and during the lockdown, having many roles of responsibility had made even more challenging.

I am a single parent household and began my first year at university, all as an immigrant far from family. I became no stranger to feeling overwhelmed. I also often doubted how I would possibly reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite trying not to, I was losing hope.

But one day an answer sprung to mind, Resilience.

Now, resilience to me means taking control of my life and the situations I’m in by actively changing how I approach them, essentially seeking healthy outcomes in potentially unhealthy situations.

With that being said, Resilience is a quality so invaluable to my survival and prosperity, especially during the pandemic. Personally, it has been so pivotal in shaping positive outcomes.

But I had to ask myself, did I have what it took inherently to be resilient?

Looking back, I unknowingly practiced resilience, I welcomed that doubt and got researching. Resilience wasn’t a trait but rather a skill I could teach myself and my toddler. In fact, it’s something you could teach yourself and your loved ones.

I found comfort in this alone and it helped to calm myself, I felt like there was actually hope. And from researching and practising resilience, I have found three core steps that helped me and that I’d like to share with you:

Number one was building connections. For me this was imperative in the form of caring and compassionate support networks, reaffirming for myself and my daughter that we were not as alone as we felt. This was particularly challenging in Covid with no face-to-face contact, what I did do was make the most of virtual platforms and began to understand these were a privilege in and of themselves. I made interactions more engaging by introducing virtual coffees and game nights, socialising with loved ones became far more frequent this way.

The second step was realistic goal setting. By managing my time and pacing myself, I was able to sort short term, medium term and long term goals into order and celebrate little successes, reminding me of daily progress that would usually go unnoticed.

Lastly, I practiced coping skills. Mindfulness, breathing techniques, finding the fun in indoor exercise as well as developing a new routine. Modelling coping skills was also something I actively did for the sake of my daughter and in doing so, saying “mummy’s feeling a little overwhelmed right now she’s going to take a few minutes of silence” we created a space where a range of emotions was validated and accepted in a healthy fashion.

It's important to remember that resilience can mean many things and different things will work for different people. To me, resilience is a real-life superpower, and practice can make perfect but with that in mind, I have learnt that being resilient doesn’t mean resilient people are immune to stressors or adversity. Rather it can help accept, adapt and reframe behaviours, thoughts and actions to move forward.

Honing resilience didn’t do away with any of my problems but it did equip me with some of the tools necessary to brave this storm. I’ve made it this far and if you’re watching this so have you!

I hope you’re able to think about what resilience might mean to you, to give it a conscious effort. It is worth a try.