Resilience- what is that?
Every person is confronted with burdens in the course of his or her life. However, what we perceive as burdens can be very different. They can be of a temporary nature, or they can last longer. They can affect us alone or a community. Some are threatening or "only" strenuous. For example, the work situation can be perceived as a burden - even if the individual is not in danger. In other cases we feel threatened by ourselves or others, we are afraid - perhaps for our own health or that of someone close to us. But saying goodbye to a familiar situation or separating from another person can also be a great burden.
As different as the loads are, as different can be the reaction to them. It is not possible to say in general terms that one person is generally more resilient than another. On the contrary, a person can cope well with increased stress at work, for example, but cannot cope well with emotional stress in his or her private environment. So we have very different abilities to deal with stress. In medicine and psychology we speak of "resilience". Social, cultural, but also medical aspects play a role in the development of resilience. For example, each person has a different profile of resilience factors that shapes his or her resistance to different stresses.
When we compare our resilience with others, we often run the risk of making a blanket judgement, even though it is a very individual one. If one is very much caught up in the performance thinking, then one might experience the other person as a "rock in the surf" or devalue the stressed person as a "mimosa" or "failure". Or you may feel yourself to be insufficient and worthless.
Of course, it would be better to react with compassion and forbearance when we see that we or someone around us is reaching their limits. If a person in our environment is in an acutely stressful situation, then we usually succeed quite well. However, if the reaction of the person concerned takes longer, then sometimes it is already more difficult.
We tend to compare particularly quickly if we are exposed to the same difficult situation together with others over a longer period of time. We then run the risk of perhaps experiencing the other person as a "whiner". Or we find that the other person actually has it much easier than we do, or vice versa. Then tensions and sometimes quarrels arise - often especially in closer personal relationships, i.e. in partnerships or between parents.
What impact does the Corona pandemic have on you
In a sense, we are currently in a similar situation: we all have to live with the uncertainty of possibly being infected by a new type of virus over a long period of time. Beyond that, however, we have to cope with many restrictions that have changed our everyday lives in ways never seen before. Of course, this also leads to the interpersonal tensions described above.
However, the example of distance rules and contact bans also shows how differently these changes can be perceived: If it is easy for one person to turn away and pursue more level-headed activities, the other person lacks direct contact and exchange with other people.
The situation of families is particularly complex at this point: even if my personality might like to withdraw from social contacts for a while, the family itself is already a social structure, and our children in particular are very much looking for relationship experiences in the social space. As parents, this can present us with great challenges: We are now no longer only ourselves subject to the worries about the health of ourselves and our relatives or the restrictions in the social space, but we also have to compensate for the needs of the children and feel obliged to meet them to the maximum extent. The required role changes are often very strenuous - such as the change to the "home office" or the schooling of the children. This changes the well-rehearsed family life very much.
You can do this to strengthen your resilience:
Of course, it is not possible to give comprehensive advice here in just a few moves. Nevertheless, we should be aware of some important principles that might help us to deal with this crisis:
- Dont compare yourself to others!
We should not compare ourselves too much with others when it comes to the question of resilience. When we reach our limits, we should be aware of this and pay attention to how we can regain inner balance. And of course we should also have understanding with others when they seem overburdened.
- Structures and rituals give you stability!
In the crisis we run the risk of losing important structures. School or work often give us roles and daily routines that have suddenly been lost. Then it is important to establish a new rhythm in the family and develop small rituals together. It is also important to coordinate with each other. Of course this should also include room for spontaneous changes. However, a certain reliability of structures seems to be important especially in the family. It should not be too arbitrary when and how the family comes together and when there is room for the individual interests of the individual.
- Take time for yourself!
Within this rhythm there should also be space and time for each family member - including oneself and the parents. However, single parents in particular often have little opportunity to pay sufficient attention to their own needs. But families with sick members also have a particularly difficult time here. It is then important that we offer help to our circle of friends and acquaintances if this seems necessary - or ask for help.
- Inform yourself with reliable sources!
Good and reliable information is important: A good knowledge of the background of the crisis often makes it easier to deal with the necessary restrictions. However, it must be emphasized here to refer to reliable sources and to avoid panicking due to an information overload. Regularly reading the newspaper or listening to the news certainly makes sense. But if we search for various "latest" information on the pandemic on our mobile phones too often, this often leads to restlessness and imbalance.
- Fresh air and exercise are good for you!
Movement and nature also seem to be important factors for our resilience. As long as it is compatible with current regulations, these two aspects should be considered.
- Maintain your social contacts!
Even in times of "social distancing" our social relationships continue to be of great importance. Wherever possible, we should maintain them as well as possible. Even if no direct contact is possible, we can use the new media and the telephone to keep up the contacts. The recommended rules of distance should not lead to contact breakdown and isolation.
- Plan beautiful experiences!
Last but not least, we can develop perspectives for the future - preferably together with the family. So we could already plan our first holiday "to Corona" and perhaps ask about the holiday destination. We could consider how we want to celebrate our birthdays when the crisis is behind us. We could also plan to treat ourselves to something special - like a special restaurant visit, a wellness offer or a new bike - maybe for parents and child?
It may even be possible that through such and other measures we will succeed in developing new opportunities for living together as a family.
What you can do when there seems to be no improvement in sight:
Of course, such a crisis is a great challenge for families precisely because of the uncertainty and the long duration. We should not be afraid to seek help even if we are no longer up to these challenges. This is perhaps the most important message: We can and should stand by our weaknesses and deal with them responsibly. This protects not only our children, but also ourselves from excessive demands and resignation.
Please note that these or similar recommendations do not replace professional advice or support. So if you feel that your problems are overwhelming you, seek direct support. We have listed a few points of contact here that can help you further.
We would like to thank Prof. Dr. med. Wolfang Eirund for the pleasant and cordial cooperation and his expert contribution on the topic of resilience.
Further information on the specialist clinic in Katzenelnbogen (Open Hospital for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics)
you will find under https://www.fachklinik-katzenelnbogen.de/
Articles on the topic
What you can do to get back on track
How you can support your teenager with fear of the future
Unclear specifications require responsible design
Experts explain how separated parents get along
How young and old maintain social contacts even in lockdown
Experts explain why it is not the separation that makes the trauma