When life gets difficult, where do you find peace and hope? What sustains you? Is there anybody who truly understands your situation? All of us have strengths and resources we use to get through hard times, to feel good, and to flourish. Taking time to identify and remember these resources will benefit your mental health!
Leaning into your strengths
Your strengths are your internal resources, and they are always with you. Leaning into your strengths is just a matter of recognizing and accessing them. Therapists are masterful at drawing our attention to the strengths we possess and empowering us to use them in healing ways. Here are a few examples of internal resources we might possess:
- Sense of connection with God
- Meditation practice
- Feeling of purpose
- A sense of humor
Do you identify with any of these? What other strengths do you possess? Remind yourself of a specific time when you used one of your strengths to get through something challenging.
What are your external resources?
None of us are truly alone on this planet, and today’s technology makes connecting to external resources easier in some ways now than in the past. We can lean on each other and the tools that we’ve created as resources to get through hard times.
For example, I find that when I am stuck in anxious thoughts during a challenging existential situation (facing illness, fear of rejection, etc.), reading articles or watching videos about archaeology and anthropology help me to feel connected to the greater human story. Similarly, learning about astrophysics (even if I don’t quite understand everything I hear) helps me feel a part of something even greater – everything that exists in the universe!
There are times, like during a pandemic, when some of our usual resources might be inaccessible. This gives us the opportunity to stretch a muscle each one of us has – our creativity! What do we have access to right now? The following list of resources is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it will open your mind to discover the resources you can lean on during difficult times:
- Close friends or family*
- Public parks for walking or jogging
- Spiritual leader like a Rabbi, Pastor, Imam, or Teacher*
- Sacred site (church, labyrinth)
- Meditation group*
- Physical health care provider*
- Reading novels, articles, or sacred texts
- Running or other exercise club*
- The routine of taking care of a beloved pet
- Cleaning and decluttering
- Discussion group*
- Creating artwork
- Musical group*
*It’s been amazing to witness how groups are innovating in light of the COVID-19 pandemic by meeting virtually. Musicians are recording together on individual devices, faith communities are live streaming services, fitness instructors are offering at-home instructional videos, friends are video chatting, and health providers and therapists are using telehealth platforms.
Take hope: together, by leaning into our external and internal resources, we have what it takes to get through hard times and to flourish beyond them.
Written by Abbie Culbertson. Some of the information in this article was gathered from the book Spirit in Session (Spirituality and Mental Health) by Russell Siler Jones, Templeton Press. Clinically Reviewed by Carol Smith, LMFT (TN License #784).
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! We’re sharing tools that help build resiliency and get us through hard times with our mental health intact.