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Resilience in a Stressful World

Sunday, July 10th, 2022

by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD


We live in a great country!  In spite of all the turmoil and cultural struggle we are immersed in right now, we nevertheless have a degree of freedom and a breadth of opportunities generally unparalleled in our world.  We’re just four years out from our 250th national anniversary.  Our next president, whoever she or he is, will have the distinct privilege of setting the stage for what I suspect will be a yearlong celebration with events at all levels of our society.  

At the same time, we also live in a cultural climate that unfortunately generates immense stress.  The demand to be academically and industrially more advanced has gotten much harder as the rest of the world is largely catching up to or surpassing our high academic and industrial systems.  Further, the level of violence in our country is evident in the unending list of mass shootings that have become ubiquitous to life in America.  

We aren’t quite the same superpower that we were in the decades following WWII.  And we don’t have the sense of personal security that existed in our neighborhoods when I was a young person.   As a culture we are feeling that pressure.  And that cultural pressure works its way into all of our lives in a variety of ways, some obvious and some not so obvious.

In short, whether you are aware of it or not, some of the stress and struggle you feel is deeply embedded in our larger cultural and geopolitical context.  Is it any wonder that psychological issues and mental health in general are getting increased attention at our national level?

The need for greater psychological resilience and relational strength in our current era is self-evident.  The good news is that there are things you can do about that.

Here are some things that you can do to help you build resilience.  One website suggested the following:

  1. Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support, guidance and acceptance in good and bad times.  We were made for relationship, and we know that we are better together.
  2. Make every day meaningful.  Approaching each day with intentional gratitude can help with this.  Frankly, simply being thoughtful throughout your day will help you experience a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life, especially when that thoughtful approach to life helps you engage deeply with others.
  3. Learn from experience.  Being willing to always sit in the learner’s seat, and to always explore the value of experiences that are hard, will certainly make you a better person in many ways.  You will gain strength to endure hard times.  In fact, difficult moments in life may become less impactful in some ways, less threatening to your sense of self and of purpose.
  4. Remain hopeful.  Hope is an interesting thing.  Hope is in all of us as an aspect of what it means to be human.  Sometimes things get in the way of our awareness of hope.  But gratitude and thoughtfulness in how we approach life tends to help us recognize and appreciate the hope that is in us.
  5. Take care of yourself.  Self care, or self maintenance as I prefer to call it, is vitally important when we live in a stressful context.  Think of how you go about maintaining a vehicle.  You change oil, replace filters, rotate tires, and add power steering fluid before something goes awry.  Likewise in our lives we want to engage in those kinds of maintenance activities that strengthen us before something goes wrong.  Things that bring you joy and peace, and that help you grow personally and in your relationships, are the kinds of things to engage in for your self maintenance.
  6. Be proactive.  We have all likely heard that old adage, “if not you, who, and if not now, when?”  Now is the time for each of us to engage in resilience-building activities at personal, relational, community, and national levels.  

Life in 2022 is stressful.  If life’s challenges have you in need of building some additional resilience, give us a call.  We have competent and caring therapists in all four of our locations - River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton - who will meet you where you are, offering hope.  You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office at 605-337-3444, or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your own computer or smartphone.  To schedule an appointment please call 605-334-2696.