A short monologue on mindfulness and well-being

Every time we go on a trip, every time we do something that might accidentally harm us, we never forget our emergency first aid kit or at least we are very well trained on how to react in case of an accident. We know how to solve our problems and how to get out of an unpleasant physical situation.

Now, let’s visualize the existence of a first-aid kit for our psychological emergencies, for our emotional breakdowns; a first aid-kit that puts us out of our misery and brings us our stability and motivation back. Psychologists and researchers call it resilience and they define it as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It doesn’t just boost your happiness and confidence back, but it is also a matter of personal growth and improvement.

A resilient person is very aware of the fact that life comes along with loss, tragedies and suffering along the way. Don’t confuse resilience with a lifestyle throughout which one is oblivious to the harsh realities they face every day. The goal is to acknowledge the difficulties and work with yourself so as to move forward, and to avoid letting them define you as a person. It is a road that requires time and effort, but, fortunately, resilience can be trained and achieved at some point. To bear in mind that no one is born more resilient than the other; there is enough room for everyone to evolve in this field.

I am not very resilient myself. Honestly, I perceive this article as a motivation for me, as well. In a society where insipid, empowering quotes – “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay”, “Smile, you are beautiful today” - are hopelessly trying to solve something and where a mental health diagnosis starts to be a trend, there is still too little emphasis put on promoting one’s ambition and eagerness to shape their mindset against long time suffering. Terms such as anxiety and depression sound very familiar to each and every one of us. Were we to shape our life based on the “mental health” trends presented online nowadays, we would all be doomed to sadness, loneliness and depression. I wouldn’t have heard of the term resilience – shame on me - if my mom hadn’t bought a book on this topic. It struck me that this is such an essential concept that stays hidden from the mainstream public eye.

There is no groundbreaking solution to becoming more resilient. As you might very well know, the simple and usually overlooked habits are the ones that prove to be the most valuable at the end of the day.

Prioritize relationships and experiences. During last year’s quarantine, I took the “Science of Well Being” Yale course which proved eye-opening in the way I perceive happiness and fulfillment. Surrounding ourselves with compassionate, trustworthy individuals who are capable of listening and validating our issues may actually be the key to developing our resilience. I frequently hear the phrase “I don’t want to overreact and seem dramatic; I’ll keep things to myself.”. Suppressing our emotions goes against our human nature, if you ask me. We long for validation, we seek comfort in sharing our experiences and we are built so as to enjoy human interaction.

Take care of yourself and work for your goals. Yes, yes, I am very aware that self-care is the buzzword of the year, but the underlying reason for its popularity makes a lot of sense. Quarantine taught us how to focus more on lifestyle factors such as skincare, hydration, proper nutrition and exercise. Haven’t we all learnt last March what exactly a serum does, how to prepare a tasty oatmeal or how many exercises Chloe Ting puts forward in her 10 Minute Abs Workout? Much as they had started a trend, they really prove to be impactful. Not only do they contribute to our stability, but these practices are also very time-consuming and take our mind off stressful realities.

Keep things in perspective and accept change – or what resilience experts consider to be the most prominent aspect. The advice here is simple. Avoid catastrophizing difficulties, acknowledge that you are not helpless, maybe reach out to a therapist if you need and accept that certain goals may no longer be attainable. Sounds easy? Yes. Almost impossible to do? Also, yes. However, even realistically trying to accomplish at least one of the aforementioned aspects is a huge step. Reading about resilience, listening to someone talking about it, simply being more interested, build our mindsets and, with time, can actually produce change.

I have recently started listening to a podcast, “Good Influence”, hosted by Gemma Styles, where she invites a variety of qualified people to tackle different topics. At the end of every episode, she requests the guest to recommend the audience one good thing to read, one good thing to listen to and one good thing to watch. Not to consider myself as well informed and as worthy of recognition as her guests, but I chose 3 titles to recommend as well.

Therefore, something good to read would be “Resilience”, By Eric Greitens, something good to listen to would be the first episode from the podcast mentioned above, “Good Influence: Charly Cox on Mental Health” and something good to watch would be an impressive TED Talk, I dare to say, Lucy Hone – “3 Secrets of Resilient People”.

It seems to be a hopeless journey in order to become more resilient, but in reality, nothing valuable is pursued without blood, sweat and tears. In order to keep it in a positive note, I strongly hope that we will do our best to not be overwhelmed by our difficulties and we won’t fall prey to the stigmatized idea that there’s no good left in our life.

(Association, 2012)

articol scris de Eva Grosu

fotograf: Daniel Lăpădat