How To Build Strength And Resilience In Times Of Stress

High-stress situations can make you feel gutted, but they can also help you discover your power within

Dr Shyam Bhat Published Apr 8, 2020 13:22:55 IST
How To Build Strength And Resilience In Times Of Stress Image used for representative purposes only

We are inherently social beings, and it is vital for us to maintain social connections both within the family and outside to stay centred and happy. Lockdown and quarantine, while necessary for the management of the pandemic, can result in isolation and inherent stresses.

Some common signs and symptoms of stress are: worrying too much, overthinking, or catastrophic thinking, irritability or impatience, restlessness, difficulty with concentration, sleeplessness and changes in appetite. To manage stress, it is important to be aware of the experience. Many of us are not even aware that we are experiencing stress. First, it is useful to identify the causes for the stress. Any emergency situation, such as the current one, can lead to stress for a number of reasons:

1. Uncertainty: Even though we are getting better informed about the pandemic every day, uncertainty still persists. Constant news updates and information about the spreading pandemic also heightens the sense of loss of control and anxiety.

2. Isolation: People living away from their loved ones may experience loneliness. They may feel they have no one to share their troubles with, and they may also worry about the health of their loved ones who are far away.


3. Relationship conflicts: Every relationship needs space and togetherness. Couples and families may experience conflicts living and working in close proximity for days together. Issues that were previously ignored may suddenly flare up, and since everyone’s going through stress, there may be outbursts. Couples may also argue about household chores and finances.

4. Changes in lifestyle: The absence of exercise and increased screen time also causes more stress and anxiety.

But stressed times can also offer an opportunity to discover our own strength and resilience. In order to transform this into a time of growth, learning, and positivity, I recommend the following:

1. Live healthy: This is the foundation for a stress-free mind. Ensure that you get 7 to 8 hours of regular sleep, and a schedule for the day that includes designated time for working, exercise, sleep, recreation and family time. Ensure that you eat healthy, refrain from using alcohol or other substances to manage stress.

2. Meditate: Practise meditation regularly to feel a sense of calm and peace. When life is uncertain, meditation allows us to give up trying to control that which we cannot and bring our focus to that which we can. By helping you stay in the present moment, meditation can also remove the anxieties of an uncertain future. Remind yourself of your own strengths and soothe yourself through positive reinforcements.


3. Connect: Ensure that you speak and interact with friends (even if is online), rather than scrolling through social media. Use technology to connect with people while avoiding negativity.

4. Unplug: Stay updated with the news but do not obsess over it. You can get occasional updates to make sure you are focusing on the essentials, but obsessively pouring over data and analysis will only amplify anxiety.

5. Spread compassion and love: Research shows that it relaxes the brain and cuts stress hormones. So do connect with warmth with all and remind yourself that everyone is in this together.

The incidence of clinical depression and anxiety increases during stressful life events, and such cases require therapy and treatment, which are available and accessible, even under the constraints of these difficult times. If you feel you need help, all you need to do is reach out.


Visit The Live Love Laugh Foundation (here and here) for professional support.

Dr Shyam Bhat, MD, is a psychiatrist and integrative medicine specialist, as well as a Trustee of The Live Love Laugh Foundation.
Do You Like This Story?
Other Stories