Lilli Marmurek, Lower School Social Worker

Building Our Resilience

By Lilli Marmurek, Lower School Social Worker
As a therapist, I often speak with clients about “resilience”. While this seems to be the latest buzzword, resilience has always played a critical role in our lives.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult or stressful situations. It’s a form of emotional flexibility that we can rely on when dealing with an unpredictable or changing environment; keeping us afloat during times of difficulty and pain.

COVID-19 has painfully impacted our lives in more ways than anyone could have predicted, resulting in countless forms of change, loss, and grief. Personally, the parts of my life that I grew up envisioning a certain way – my wedding/honeymoon, my career trajectory, and soon, welcoming of my first child – have and will look much different than I could have imagined. I’ve also watched close family and friends be forced to make difficult choices: between earning a living or parenting their children, supporting an elderly loved one or supporting their own longevity, reducing physical health risks or promoting their mental health. As someone who supports people for a living, I’ve felt particularly helpless watching my loved ones struggle to navigate through many unwanted changes without being able to console them with a hug. I imagine many parents feel similarly helpless in their efforts to protect their children from the difficulties this pandemic has introduced into our lives.

During times like these, where our access to external resources of comfort is limited, we can look inwards to our own mental reservoir of strength – our resilience – to keep us moving forward.

Resilience is something we all have, but in the same way, we need to exercise to develop muscles, we must practise certain behaviours to build resilience within ourselves and our children:
  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits (i.e. self-care)
  • Model healthy coping strategies (i.e. movement, mindful activities, connect with others, create routines)
  • Acknowledge/Validate your own and your children’s experiences of change/loss
  • Discuss your feelings openly with your children; being vulnerable helps others be vulnerable too
  • Nurture a positive-self view; highlight your child’s ability to problem-solve and withstand change
  • Instill a hopeful outlook and remind your child that this is temporary
It’s also important to remember that all grief deserves compassion. Minimizing our grief by comparing our circumstances to others who we feel have endured greater hardship, can make our already troubling feelings more difficult to process and manage.