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Published on December 13, 2019

Building Resiliency with Self-Care

As we wind our way through the holiday season, stress can be at an all-time high. A key way to maintain good mental wellness is to build resiliency into your daily life. Resilience is your ability to handle adversity – when life gives you lemons, are you struggling through the day or already looking up recipes for lemon cake? In the former case, a lack of resiliency represents no protection from negative stress or threats, whereas in the latter case it is precisely those resilient qualities in an individual that empower her to acknowledge the setback, moderate its negative effects, and begin adapting it into something more positive.

So how do you build resiliency into your life in the first place? The short answer is: self-care. Taking care of yourself consistently in a variety of ways and not neglecting your own well-being creates space in your life to absorb, process and transform negative experiences – if not into positive ones, this sort of resilience at least eases the effects of stress and trauma.

Here are some ways to build self-care into your daily routine:

  1. Sleep – don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. Getting the right amount of sleep (7-8 hours a night for most adults) on a regular basis builds emotional and mental resilience and benefits physical health, too!
  2. Nature – spending time engaging with nature helps reduce stress and improve well-being. Whether you’re taking care of a plant in your home or spending time in the countryside on a hike, “eco-therapy” makes a difference.
  3. Exercise – do what you’re comfortable with, but get up and move around – take a walk, practice yoga, go to the gym, swim, play a sport. However you get exercise, it’s good for both your physical and mental well-being.
  4. Nutrition – practice eating right to help boost both your mood and your physical health. Start with a realistic goal like replacing one meal each week with a healthy alternative and build from there.
  5. Say “No” – learn to say no sometimes to friends and relatives when you’ve already got too much on your plate. It’s okay to prioritize yourself every now and again.
  6. Schedule your self-care – it’s important to be clear about your self-care time. Try to build in time for any of the above or other relaxing activities and stick with what you plan.
  7. Physical health – if it’s not obvious already, your physical and behavioral health are inextricably linked. In order to maximize either, you must take care of both. Don’t neglect regular preventative health care like annual physicals and flu shots. You can also take a confidential, online mental health screening to see if you would benefit from counseling or other help.

Be active and mindful of your self-care. Tell yourself that you’re doing these activities explicitly for you – because that’s just what you’re doing: taking good care of yourself now to make it easier to cope later when life gives you lemons.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is director of behavioral health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves on the Board of Directors. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.

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