10 Keys to Maintain Mental Health and Build Resilience

Mar 5, 2021 | Elder Care, Mental Health

By Lynn Huntley
Care Manager Associate

There is a lot of talk these days about cultivating resilience. The dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness”.

Resilience also includes the “ability to adapt to our environment and circumstances”. Amidst the recent business closures due to COVID, many examples shine through of the innovative businesses that are not only staying afloat but are finding ways to flourish. We are all grateful for the good news of these success stories.

I find the business success stories inspiring, but how can people on a personal level tap into and develop resilience? I think everyone on the planet agrees that we are experiencing difficulties during this pandemic. Our sanity is being stretched thin and many of us need help.

I work for The Option Group, and throughout this pandemic I have been amazed and impressed how Ellen Platt and our team are forging ahead, expanding our services, and meeting the often-dire needs of society’s most vulnerable population and their caregivers.

Since the beginning of the pandemic when we moved our in-person staff meetings to the virtual platform, Zoom, we begin each meeting with a one-word check in. It is a good way to share and stay connected with one another. Developing practices that incorporate personal connections are key to feeling valued and building resilience.

As a senior care associate, I help people navigate longevity. My role includes making assessments, suggesting ways to increase my clients’ quality of life, assure safety, help facilitate connections and access resources. My effectiveness is greatly enhanced when my own mental health is on solid ground. But sometimes it is not, and for those times the adage reminds us to put on our oxygen mask first when an airplane loses cabin pressure. Only then can we become effective in helping others.

Traditional wisdom advises writers to “write what you know” but I am sometimes floundering, so instead I choose to “write what I need to know”. Maybe you as a reader are reading this blog because you would like to know, too. Or, better yet, you have the wisdom of your own that you would like to share with others. Perhaps this piece can become an ongoing document that everyone can contribute to, like a resilience Wikipedia. Feel free to contact The Option Group at 410-667-0266 to add your comments and ideas.

I did a quick internet search and found “Seven Skills of Resilience”:

  1. Cultivate a belief in your ability to cope.
  2. Stay connected with sources of support.
  3. Talk about what you are going through.
  4. Be helpful to others.
  5. Activate Positive Emotion.
  6. Cultivate an Attitude of Survivorship.
  7. Seek Meaning.

My internet search also yielded “Five Pillars of Resilience”:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Self-Care
  4. Positive Relationships
  5. Purpose

Throughout the years, I have developed my own personal version of “Keys to Maintain Mental Health and Build Resilience”. But one I find most beneficial is – Practice Gratitude Daily. I am a member of a Facebook Gratitude Group and we have all made a commitment to post daily, something for which we are grateful. The effects of creating my own posts and reading other’s is the exact opposite from the effects of “doom scrolling”. Focusing on gratitude has been key to reducing my anxiety and sadness.

My 10 Keys to Maintain Mental Health and Build Resilience:

  1. Operate from your own authentic self – even if it is a sad one. Try to connect with and stay connected to however you define your God, even if it is merely marveling at the great mystery of our universe. Be receptive to this connection. Listen.
  2. What they say is true. Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, exercise, eat nutritious food. Pay attention to your body and take care of it. It houses your soul, and you need it.
  3. Always have a good fiction book going – a good escape from our lives can be beneficial both as an escape or distraction and to offer a perspective change.
  4. Have a vacation planned, or at least something fun to look forward to. These plans can help us get through stressful, trying, and frustrating times. Make sure your “to do” list always has something fun on it.
  5. Reach out. I know you don’t always want to but do it anyway.
  6. Search for beauty everywhere.
  7. Practice gratitude daily.
  8. Meditate.
  9. Keep a journal.
  10. Stay informed and trust science. Balance this with setting limits on your exposure to news and social media. Do not get stuck in doom scrolling. It is ok to look at cute kitten/puppy videos sometimes. Give yourself a break.

Sticking to these ten strategies on a frequent and regular basis is my way of putting on my emergency oxygen mask so that I am better prepared to help others. If you still find yourself struggling even after developing some healthy mental practices, re-read the above ten practices. You may find some that work especially well to help you put on your oxygen mask.

If you need additional help, please remember there are resources available. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has an excellent website and a help hotline. Search Nami.org or call 800-950-6264 available M-F 10am – 8 pm. You may also call 211 in Maryland and 211 or 855-567-5341 in Pennsylvania.
In addition, you may call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 which is available 24/7.

About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).