When we began talking about the quarantine it was 8 months ago and I’m sure you, like me had no idea that it would last this long. Because it has lasted so long, I am hearing from people all over the world and also reading the research showing that there are record increases in mental health issues. Social isolation, fears about the virus, home-schooling, working from home, unemployment and financial stress can lead to binge eating, emotional eating and food addiction behaviors. Building resilience will help you get through difficult pandemic / quarantine struggles. As well, many people are finding they have grown in response to their struggle or loss.
In this podcast, you will learn:
1. 10 steps you can take to build resilience.
2. How to take advantage of your struggles to build self-confidence
3. What you can do to find comfort without binging, emotionally eating or having food addiction behaviors.
Exercise mentioned in the podcast: When one door closes, another opens.
The goal of this exercise is to help you realize that the end of one thing is also the beginning of something new. Also the end of something positive is not only a negative. Shifting your perspective can help you to refocus from what is not there to the potential of the future.
1. Think of a time in your life when a door closed – you lost a job or a relationship, a business failed, etc. Then answer these questions:
– What was the door that closed?
– What led to the door closing?
– What new experience came into your life?
– What did you learn from this experience?
– What character strengths did you use to get through this?
2. Now think of all the people who have helped you in the past to open new doors? What did they do? What can you do to help others open new doors?
Links mentioned in the video:
Take the Resilience Quiz – https://carolynrossmd.com/resilience-questionnaire/
Schedule a free consult to discuss your food and body image issues: https://findingyouranchor.as.me/CONSULT
If you are struggling and need professional help to manage stress during the pandemic, you can find a list of resources: https://bit.ly/3ooKNIC
Hi everyone. It’s Dr. Carolyn coming to you with episode number 77 Quarantine Resilience. And this is quarantine resilience why pain is an invitation to heal. That may sound kind of funny, like how can we heal when we’re in pain? But what I’m going to be talking about is how to build resilience and why some of the toughest times teach us the most.
So I hope you’ll stay tuned.
Hi, Dr. Carolyn here, what have you been up to? Well, the quarantine has led me back to learning to and perfecting or enjoying cooking more. I have, I have several, like I have a pile of recipes that I’ve downloaded from the internet and from the New York Times Food Magazine and I’ve just been going through them one by one, some great successes, some spectacular failures. Recently I tried to cook a sponge cake that was gluten-free. I miss read the ingredient list and thought “Oh, this will fit in a loaf pan and next thing I looked in the oven and my loaf pan had developed a mushroom cloud above the top of the pan.” I have to say though, the spongecake tasted pretty good, it was just kind of weird looking. So anyway, that’s been my new little hobby. I have a bunch of little memes I’m working on about the quarantine. Like how do you know you’ve survived a quarantine. One is, you know, because you’re not even bothering to fold your clothes anymore after they come out of the dryer, you just put them on from the basket. Another meme. How do you know this has to do with clothes? Again? All the clothes in the washer are sweats and PJ’s. Cause that’s all we’re wearing nowadays.
Anyway, I’m just trying to stay, uh, keep, uh, you know, sort of keep a positive outlook on everything and these little things help me do that. And that’s what we’re talking about today. So think about what you’ve done to get yourself through this without falling into despair. You know, when we all started talking about this pandemic, I think I’m sure you, like, most of us had no idea it was going to last this long and because it has lasted so long, I think people are exhausted just with the notion of the pandemic and the restrictions and everything. And I think that’s obviously, that’s very difficult for all of us. We’re all tired of being stuck at home. We’re all tired of not being able to get our Manny Pettys and go to a restaurant and all that, but just keep in mind that many people are suffering, even more people who like myself even who’ve survived COVID but have the long haul symptoms and are struggling to get their health back. People who’ve lost their jobs and are really struggling financially. People who are going hungry because they don’t have work and they, and they’re having to line up at the food bank to get food. So let’s count any little blessing we have, whether it’s for me, even though I’ve been really challenged by the COVID long haul problems I feel blessed to be alive. I feel blessed. I didn’t have to go in the hospital. I feel blessed that my health isn’t worse than it is as I read about so many people who have lost loved ones or who are have been on respirators and ventilators and have ended up worse than I have. So that’s one of the ways that I build resilience and keep from falling in despair.
So I do know though, from articles, I’ve read and research, I’ve been reading that many people are struggling and have had an increase in depression, anxiety, alcohol use, drug use. And obviously of course, binge eating, compulsive overeating, emotional eating, and food obsessions, body image, obsessions, et cetera. So you may be thinking to yourself, do I have binge eating disorder or is this just my response to the quarantine while we know that, you know, in the quarantine there’s been social isolation, there’s been so much fear about the virus. There’s people are, parents are having to homeschool, working from home, which works for some people like me. It works really well most of the time, but not for everyone. Then there’s unemployment and financial stress. And all of those, including health problems can lead to binge eating, compulsive eating, emotional eating, and food addiction behaviors. As one of my clients in the anchor program recently said, you know what I’m home alone and when the work is done, I turned to food because I’m bored and lonely, and I I’m tired of watching Netflix and I just can’t think of anything else to fill my time. That’s a common sentiment. You may also be experiencing depression or anxiety or using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate the changes in your life during the quarantine, not to mention. You know, the social unrest, political issues and the uncertainty that we’re all experiencing or you, or someone, you know, may be recovering from COVID or you may have lost a loved one due to COVID. So changes in your mood and your anxiety or substance use. Can all lead to these unwanted behaviors and that then leads to feelings of guilt, shame, anger, or feeling like you’re a failure. So the first thing I want to just let you know about is that under stress, like what we’re experiencing now during the quarantine, it’s really natural to turn to food for comfort. So everybody in the world at some point has reached for a donut or chocolate or whatever your food fix is to deal with stress or to deal with uncertainty. That’s not weird. It’s not strange. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure, but what you do need to know besides the fact that your reactions are normal and that everybody else has experienced this at one time or another, is that food is not the only way to find comfort. Yes, it’s the easiest I give you that and certainly during this long period of isolation and illness for myself I have turned to food many times. But I constantly remind myself that food is not the only way to find comfort. So, you know, like me wake up from your last food coma. Dust yourself off and avoid getting stuck in that vicious cycle of beating yourself up, berating yourself, feeling like a failure and use this time to build your resilience skills.
What we’re experiencing in the world right now is unprecedented. So you can’t blame yourself for using food to deal with the uncertainty, the fear, the pain, the anger, the anguish that we’re facing. But the first step of all is let go of self-blame just imagine filling a sinking ship with all of your self-blame, your guilt and your shame. Now get a lifeboat and get off that ship before it sinks, because you know that when it spirals down, you’re going to start overeating or bingeing or obsessing about food. So get off that sinking ship of self-blame guilt, anger, fear. Get yourself a lifeboat. And let’s build some resilience skills to help you deal with what’s left.
So there’s a quote from Steve Maraboli, which I like, and he says, “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving. We get stronger and more resilient.” But how do we get resilient? You may be asking yourself and that’s a darn good question. So one of the combination of factors helps build resilience. And by the way, it’s important to note that many people are born with resilient. It’s there, those strong people, you know, about who are helping everybody else off the Titanic and they are the last ones to get the lifeboat. But not everybody’s like that. So if you weren’t born with resilience, it’s important to know that you can build resilience. The capacity to build resilience is in every one of us. And many studies have shown that the main factor to building resilience is having supportive and caring relationships within and outside the family. Now some of you may not even know what a supportive and caring relationship even looks like. Maybe you’ve grown up in an abusive or neglectful home. Maybe you’ve been in abusive relationships and you’re just on your own isolating because you don’t want to take a chance on other people. I would advise not to give up hope. And here’s what a caring and supportive relationship looks like. These are relationships that create love and trust. So a relationship where someone doesn’t violate your trust, uh, often they provide role models. They offer encouragement and reassurance to help bolster your resilience. So there are also several factors that relate to building resilience. One is the ability to be realistic about what’s happening and to make realistic plans and to follow through on taking steps, a positive view of yourself and confidence in your strength. Now you may be say, well, I don’t have competence in my strength, so how am I going to get that? Again, just taking steps helps you build confidence. If you said to yourself, okay, today I am going to eat three meals a day or today I am not going to binge instead, if I feel like bingeing, I’m going to take a walk around the block, or I’m going to sit in the sun for a couple of minutes, or I’m going to fill in the blank something that it helps you. And then you follow through on that, that builds self-confidence. So it’s not magical how to build self-confidence. It’s all about being able to trust yourself that you will follow through on things that you say you want to do. And then skills in communicating and problem-solving help. If you don’t have those skills, if you have someone in your family that you trust who can help you talk through problems, that also is helpful and the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses. So don’t, it’s the capacity to recognize even when your emotions are out of control or when they’re you know, they’re out of control for the situation. So if someone says, “Hey, it’s a sunny day” and you get angry and storm away from that, then that’s your you’re not being consistent with the situation and then impulses. How do you manage those impulses? Like the impulse to get up in the middle of the night and binge or the impulse to just eat the entire thing, whatever that thing is, again, it’s all about getting that life raft off the sinking ship quickly and moving in a different direction. So that could look like picking up a book in the middle of the night, listening to relaxing music, lighting and aroma therapy candle to help soothe yourself. So finding other ways to self-sooth besides food.
So I want to, I just want to talk about 10 things that can help you build resilience. And I’m going to try to keep them short and sweet, not too long. The first is to stay connected. So we all have a tendency to isolate when we’re upset or in pain or bad things are happening. But good relationships, as I mentioned earlier, can help you build resilience, accepting being willing to accept, help and support from people who care about you, uh, will help you build resilience. Sometimes being active in a group, whether it be a church or a local feed, the homeless group or something like that can provide social support and helping other people when you’re in trouble can also benefit you as the helper. So number one is stay connected. Don’t isolate.
Number two. Try not to get Stu stuck in your feelings. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable as like the mountain, you have to climb every time something comes up. Uh, yeah, there are big crises in many of our lives right now. Whether they be health crises, financial crises, et cetera. But again, don’t look at them as a mountain. Look at them as a series of steps that you have to take to get to the top of the mountain and try not to get stuck too long and feeling sorry for yourself or being upset about things you can’t change. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events are happening right now, but you can change how you respond to them. Try looking beyond all the bad stuff to see if there’s any nugget of good stuff, that’s still there. In other words, count your blessings, not just your struggles. All right. Number one, remember, stay connected. Number two, don’t avoid seeing crises as the, the mountain.
Number three, don’t get stuck in the what ifs the shoulda woulda could have. The it’s not fair. It shouldn’t have happened. Don’t get stuck in that. It’s not going to get you anywhere at all. If you can accept. What did happen? That you cannot change. It can help you focus on the things you can change. So, number one, remember, stay connected. Number two, bill some steps up that mountain. Number three, be aware of the things you can change. Count your blessings, not your struggles. Count your blessings, not your struggles.
Number four, take small steps, develop realistic goals. So remember, as I was saying, you see the mountain, the hurdle that you have to climb, how am I going to pay the rent this month? How am I going to find a job instead of looking at that global massive problem. Ask yourself. What’s one thing I know I can do today. That will help me move in the direction I want to go. And maybe that one thing is talking through the problem with the friend. Maybe that one thing is getting advice from a mentor. Maybe it is just thinking about and making a list of things that you can think of to do whatever it is just take that one step.
Number five, remember that emotions will always have their say. So don’t sit on your emotions. Don’t stay in your head, thinking about what you’re feeling, feel the fields. That’s the cue here. Feel the fields. If you’re feeling sad, just let yourself feel sad. If you’re angry, punch a pillow, just allow that emotional energy to move through you, which will leave you space to tackle your next issue.
Number six, remember pain is an invitation to heal. Often you can learn so much about yourself. Uh, and you can grow in some respect as a result of your struggles. Many people who’ve experienced tragedies and hardship ever reported better relationships, greater self-confidence, even while feeling vulnerable and they can develop a greater sense of self-worth et cetera. So look for that nugget of growth within the pain.
Number seven, give yourself some credit. These are hard times for everyone. So if you’re struggling know that you’re not alone. And also have faith in your ability to get through it. If you don’t have faith right now, think of other things in the past that you have gotten through, maybe it was a divorce, the death of a parent, maybe it was difficulties in school. You got through something in your life. And you can use that same strength and resilience to get through what you’re dealing with now.
Number eight, keep things in perspective, even though you’re facing painful events, take a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Number nine, very important. Don’t give up on hope. Sometimes situations in life can seem impossible, even insurmountable. But again, have faith in yourself and you’ll suffer less. Look for the tiny, small signs of hope, of like a flower blooming in a garden. Your child’s smile. Someone giving you a compliment, whatever you can take hope from these tiny signs can give you hope and build resilience.
And finally, number 10, again, take care of yourself. That’s probably the most important one of all. So we know that change is a part of life. So the good news is that no matter how bad things are right now, they will change. Now they may get worse, but then they’ll change again. And hopefully eventually they’ll get better.
So most of the people that I’m talking with or working with in the anchor program are also starting to have insight into the small gifts they’ve gotten from this period of struggle. So for example, while it’s may been stressful to do homeschooling, they’re also realizing that this time with their children is precious and that they’re building memories with them for life. If you’ve been laid off from your job, some of the people I’m talking to have decided to take their career in a new direction, have used a job loss as an opportunity to reevaluate their goals for their career, and maybe decide to go back to school or you know, look for something in a different career field, or maybe you’ve just enjoyed, been able to allow yourself to enjoy seeing a sunset, looking at a full moon or taking a walk on the beach.
So change is part of life. There are nuggets of gold within all of the ashes. Remember to get off the sinking ship of guilt self-blame and shame. Find a life wrath and use some of these strategies to help you build resilience. I’m going to end with an exercise that helps build resilience called when one door closes another opens.
Now I will put the written version of this exercise in the show notes. And that way you can you know, maybe journal about it and you’ll have all of the information you need. The goal of this exercise is to help you realize that the end of one thing is also the beginning of something new. Also the end of something positive is not always a negative. It may look like a negative in the beginning, but it often is not. So shifting your perspective can help you refocus from what is not there to the potential of the future.
So here’s the first thing. First thing is, think of a time in your life when a door closed. Maybe you lost a job or a relationship broke up a business failed, et cetera. Okay. Once you have that in mind answer these questions. What was the door that closed? What led to the door closing? What new experience came into your life? What did you learn from this experience? And what character strengths did you use to get through this?
So again, this will all be in a show notes. So you don’t have to take notes from the podcast, especially if you’re driving.
Number two. Now, think of all the people who have helped you in the past to open new doors, what did they do? And what can you do to help others open new doors? So, you know, this goes to some of the stuff we’re seeing now with, uh, companies, for example, wanting to increase diversity, maybe you’re in a position to lift up someone who, a coworker who’s black or Brown, who you never thought about helping out, or maybe you can ask for support from someone at work. Whenever you want to use this. Think of it just think of it as a resilience building exercise. When one door opens when one door closes another opens, so you don’t have to be born with resilience, you can develop it throughout your life using some of the techniques I’ve talked about today. And I just want to emphasize that you’re not stuck. You may feel stuck. But think of that ship. Don’t blame yourself. No matter how you respond to the problem, pick yourself up, get back in the game. Now, Kahlil Gibran has this great quote. I think he’s a Persian philosopher who said, he said “Out of suffering have emerge the strongest souls. The most massive characters are seared with scars.”
So also in the show notes, I’m going to give you a link to the resilience quiz that you can take to assess your own level of resilience, but keeping in mind, even if your score is low, you can build that up using some of the techniques that talked about. All right, next week’s program, we’re going to be talking about, Surviving holiday stress, particularly family stress. And I’ll be giving you some specific techniques going into the holidays to avoid the clash between families and its effect on food and body image issues. And right now, you know, I’ll also be talking about the fact that right now, you may not be seeing families and that may be stressful. So stay tuned for the next podcast on surviving holiday stress. You can also check out, some of the videos on my YouTube channel, Carolyn Coker Ross MD. Please give us a review, hopefully five stars and that’ll help get the word out about my podcasts.
And if any of this resonates with you and you’re tired of struggling with binge eating food addiction, or emotional eating, please schedule a free consult to discuss your food and body image issues. And that link is also in the show notes. And finally, I’ve also left you resources if you need professional help to manage stress during the pandemic I’ve left you a list of resources in the show notes. I hope that’s not confusing. Everything will be in writing though.
All right. Thanks for listening. This is Dr. Carolyn Coker, Ross signing off encouraging you to build resistance during the quarantine.