Finding Resilience in a Chaotic World
by Krishna Dholakia, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN
Stress and worry are not necessarily bad for us. They can spur us to stop procrastinating, prioritize tasks, and propel us forward. However, too much stress and worry may affect our health and our sense of well-being. In addition to the conflict in our personal lives, current events reported in the media may add to our anxiety and a feeling that events are beyond our control, reminding us that the world may seem hostile and full of threats.
Managing our emotions can improve our sense of resiliency. Here are some ways that may help you become more adept at handling stress triggers:
- Weigh the worry. There is often a root cause to why we are feeling a certain way. When we don’t aim to find the reason and resolve the worry, it gets bigger. Ask yourself if you can control or change the thing you are worried about. How crucial is it? Do you have to solve it now? Does your worry involve just you, or another person? Some worries are more relevant than others. Asking yourself these questions can help you rationalize and weigh the real importance of the worry.
- Process the worry. If you feel that stress is affecting your life, lean on your community and its resources. Talk to your doctor or mental health provider. Cigna Employee Assistance Program provides a confidential 24-hour service that can help you address behavioral health issues. Journal your thoughts; consider talking over your problems with friends, family, or a therapist; and engage in activities that bring you joy and promote self-care. Realize that you are not alone in your anxiety.
- Be proactive, not reactive. It can be easy to react too quickly when we are feeling agitated. But as Viktor E. Frankl, the noted neurologist and psychiatrist, observed, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”* Practices like mindfulness, centering prayer, scripture reflection, meditation, and breathing techniques can help slow down the thought process and calm the nervous system. When you approach a situation from a grounded state, you may be less likely to act impulsively.
- Train your brain with gratitude. When you find yourself starting to dwell on a situation that makes you anxious, try catching it early on by thinking about something you feel grateful for or that brings you joy. You’ll be encouraging your brain to form pathways more rapidly from one healthy thought to the next.
- Learn acceptance. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”** As the Serenity Prayer recognizes, it may be hard to make peace with the things we cannot change. While we can resolve some personal or work conflicts, many others lie beyond our control. Becoming aware of our beliefs and attitudes towards a situation or a person may open our eyes, leading to change that occurs from building awareness and understanding.
Krishna Dholakia serves as the Senior Health Education Specialist in the Education & Wellness department at CPG. She is a registered dietitian and a 500-hour certified yoga instructor.
*Source: Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor E. Frankl, copyright 1946
**Excerpt taken from The Serenity Prayer, by Reinhold Niebuhr