Immunity has been the number one talk since COVID-19, but what about psychological immunity and resiliency?
Now, more than ever we are experiencing dramatic and exponential increases in depression, anxiety and PTSD. Last week our founder and CEO, Sandra Scheinbaum, Ph.D., IFMCP interviewed with Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon from The Mind Over Matters Show on WCPT 820 AM Chicago. (Click here to listen to the full interview.)
Believe it or not, fear also sets up us to become even more vulnerable both physically and psychologically. Our current climate of fear, dissension and poor lifestyle habits creates the “perfect storm” that can undermine our immunity and resiliency.
Positive Psychology teaches us about PERMA – the five pillars that define a life well-lived, positive self-talk, focusing on “what is right with you,” while merging VIA Character Strengths that allow us to build great immunity and resiliency in the face of fear, uncertainty and disease. But how do we get there? Some positive psychology strategies that help build immunity and resilience are: self-awareness, setting limits, and changing your mindset.
Being able to listen carefully to our own needs allows us to recognize personal signs of stress before they grow more severe. But listening to our own needs is often difficult if we have busy lives.
Many of us place ourselves at the end of the priority list. Some feel guilty or selfish if they pay attention to themselves. Despite the discomfort it might create, building in quiet time for ourselves is imperative. In quiet, we can assess our levels of exhaustion, health, fulfillment, desire for change and overall satisfaction.
We cannot attempt to make changes without being aware of those aspects of our lives that are not working. Some people like to create self-awareness by journal writing; others walk in nature. One friend I know gains her life clarity on her early morning treadmill jog. Think of the ways you relax and recharge — and you may open your mind to what you need to change in your life. For example, if you stop and listen you might recognize that you are feeling “rushed all the time,” realizing you need to change your schedule to a healthier pace.
Another strategy for boosting psychological immunity involves setting limits with others. Some relationships may feel toxic to us. We sometimes have to keep our distance or create boundaries with those who drain our energy. We often label these as difficult relationships.
Setting limits can be as simple as limiting contact with the difficult person to two hours instead of the usual all day excursion. It can also mean saying “no” to situations when you feel you do not have extra energy to expend. Stay aware of the types of people you feel discomfort around — are they critical, loud, quiet? Think about some limits that you might set in your life to free up extra energy for yourself.
Change Your Mindset
Finally, there are many practices and techniques to assist in promoting wellness. Not every practice fits every individual. It is important to discover what works for you. Many people complain that they have no time for themselves. This issue tends to decrease both physical and emotional health.
Focusing on our own relaxation and enjoyment is important in order to gain healthy perspectives on our lives, as well as to create energy for change. Some popular balancing strategies include practices that allow us to slow down and focus on ourselves such as yoga, meditation, martial arts, or gardening.
Immunity and resilience strategies require us to be aware of ourselves and our environments. Want to learn more about Functional Medicine? Read more here.