Resiliency with Mental Health and Addiction Related Conditions

For Abby L.

Thank you for this topic! As usual I went searching for science based information on this topic, and voila - my favorite resource popped up... the Greater Good Science Center.

The Greater Good Science Center cites 5 core strategies for building one's own resiliency. The linked article is short, but is packed with immediately helpful info.

Of these 5, I've not tried the expressive writing technique. So, I've built it into my calendar for Dec 2-5 to see how it works for me. I had such good results with a 6 week art meditation several years ago that I've become a fan of scheduling time for process healing activities.

To continue, GGSC #2 is "face your fears" which is something I learned from a pilot friend nearly 20 years ago. She'd taken a class on overcoming phobias, and related the basic premise to me - that when we do the thing we are afraid of (me flying in airplanes) the fear dissipates. I fly now, but I'm not likely to bungee jump.

I've used the Excel at Life apps on my phone for over 5 years and have experienced good relief from anxiety.

GGSC #3 Self-compassion. This is the most difficult aspect of resiliency for me and others I've been with in peer support groups over the past seven years.  For my best healing, I've discovered the medical model for recovering my physical and emotional health, via the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn.

After checking out his longitudinal studies on the effects of mindfulness based stress reduction on maladies from arthritis functionality to cancer recovery to diabetes  symptom reduction... well, every physical ailment I could think of... I began to do body scan meditations nearly every day. I credit MBSR with being able to drive again, walk wherever I want, and play on the floor with my grandkids. Here's a video of Jon Kabat-Zinn's original long version of the body scan that I use when I'm in need of extra self-care.

I'm intrigued by the self-compassion letter ~ I'll leave the instructions here so I can find them later.

GGSC #4 Meditate - I have spinal arthritis which makes sitting meditation impossible, so I've taken to practicing walking meditation, and I also use a HeartMath device during periods when I just can't get myself to calm down.

GGSC #5 Practice Forgiveness - This is a wide topic with lots of research on the best way to forgive for your own healthy wellbeing. There's the "forgive and forget" ideal, the "forgive and not forget" paradigm, and also what I find works the best for me which is "loving kindness" affirmations. In my own opinion, if we have a toxic relationship with someone, there doesn't need to be blame - just acknowledgement that the relationship is toxic and adjustment for the stress that results. But again, that's my opinion and what works for me. Everyone has their own path to resilience.

Added to the above, I'll mention that the GGSC recommends Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-being by Linda Graham MFT. I have already ordered it from my local library.

#6 [added by me] is humor. A few years ago my friends and I met at the beach each Monday morning at 8am for a Laughter Yoga session. Is that official yoga? I dunno. But we did have a great time and feel good afterward, so I'm a convert.

Peace to you, Erica



Erica Kitzman