In July, when a 31-year-old teacher from Kolkata lost her husband to Covid-19, it wasn’t just grief that she had to face. A few days before her husband tested positive, she had left him due to incidents of physical violence. When he landed in the isolation room, they started talking again and he promised to be good to her and make their marriage work. But two weeks later, he succumbed to the infection, pushing her into a heap of guilt. The mother of two daughters aged four and seven turned to a psychologist who let her vent, cry and gradually restore her confidence. Much of his therapy was about building resilience.
âGrief and guilt can be a devastating combination,â said Alisha Lalljee, a Bandra-based counseling psychologist who practically counseled the Kolkata woman. âIn her case, close relatives criticized her for not being there for her husband. She was found guilty of abandoning him. Although she is a confident woman, it was the pressure of society that was pulling her down. Building resilience helps to cope with such circumstances, âshe said.
The term resilience is not new. At a recent mental health event, Mumbai psychiatrist Dr Avinash DeSousa spoke about resilience and its crucial role in treating mental health issues. More and more mental health practitioners have started to stress its importance in recent years. As the world faces the worst shocks like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed, its resilience that helps every individual cope, bounce back and get back on their feet to face the next challenge.
âSelf-esteem or self-compassion is a crucial aspect of being more resilient,â said Lalljee, who included daily journaling in Kolkata Woman’s Therapy as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Therapy. rational emotional behavioral. âAccepting the situation, learning to identify rational and irrational thoughts and beliefs, believing that you have super power and that you have been through worse are mechanisms that help to cope,â she said.
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adjusting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress, such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems. or work and financial stressors â. The association lists a variety of resilience-building strategies, including prioritizing relationships, caring for your body, practicing mindfulness, being proactive, finding opportunities for self-discovery, and more.
âPut simply, it’s your ability to bounce back,â DeSousa said. âThe good part is that resilience is something that can be taught formally to children or older adults, and it can even be adapted to disaster or trauma. It’s like dragging them into the right or wrong ways of reacting to a certain shock, âhe said.
According to DeSousa, biological factors also play a role in resilience. “The way the family is doing, the situations in which you were raised or not contribute to building resilience,” he said.
So when two people suffer from the same type of trauma, one can come out of it better and faster than the other. A 2019 review in Lancet Psychiatry stated that at a child’s community level, high social support will alter psychosocial and behavioral outcomes. âIt’s important to note that studies like this review tend to show that unique resilience factors, such as fatherly communication or maternal support, do not on their own contribute to resilience, but rather are linked to resilience. whole family experience. Unique factors together create an environment of social cohesion and a positive family climate, which are associated with resilience, âthe review said, further adding that resilience is not just a quality within individuals; it develops from accessing and using the resources needed to support mental health and well-being.
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician Dr Samir Dalwai said resilience-building exercises should be included at school level. âUnfortunately, our systems are such that we expect a lot from our children but offer them little to take advantage of their strengths. Building resilience involves validating the child’s feelings, motivating them, helping them develop the skills they lack and gradually helping them rise above, âhe said. declared. âWhen we don’t develop such strengths, most end up adapting poor coping mechanisms when faced with any kind of stress,â he said.