Resilient U: Get energized, feel connected, sleep better

Research suggests that all of us are inherently resilient, that we all have the ability to, as the American Psychological Association states, “adapt well in the face of adversity.”

I personally like Dr. Karen Reivich’s description of resilience: “At the very core, we understand that resilience is not armor that protects us from pain. Rather, resilience enables us to feel pain (and anger, anxiety, guilt) and to move through these emotions so that we can continue to feel joy, awe, and love.” Research indicates that a combination of factors contributes to an individual’s resilience with the primary factor being caring and supportive relationships.

This third week of SafeU Month is focused on mental and emotional wellness—a call to connection and to have all U students, faculty and staff feel more connected to each other and to themselves. The final weeks of October will focus on difficult events and topics—from opportunities to participate in escalation workshops and bystander trainings to remembering those who have been harmed by interpersonal violence.

We also have important conversations ahead regarding how to make the U more physically and psychologically safe for all who study and work here. The hope for this week is that we will all engage in strategies that will give us fuel in our tanks for the work ahead, whether it’s to pass an exam, secure an internship, advocate for ourselves and each other, or, for some, simply put one foot in front of the other.

Please take a moment to connect, experiment with some of the strategies provided below and at workshops this week and share them with others.

Resilience strategies: Proven ways to enhance your emotional well-being

1. Three good things

Write down three good things that happened to you within the past 24 hours. Be specific and, if possible, identify how the good thing happened. Did you take a positive action? Did someone else? Or was it a spontaneous occurrence?

Research suggests that identifying three good things consistently for two weeks improves sleep, decreases depressive symptoms and increases feelings of happiness—with a lasting effect of up to six months. This is because the brain is retrained to take account of more of the positive in life instead of focusing on the negatives. Click here to learn more.

2. Moment of awe

Take a moment to experience a sense of awe, a moment in which you feel like you are part of something bigger. Get outside to take in natural beauty, marvel at painting, listen to music, read an awe-inspiring story.

Research indicates that engaging in a moment of awe makes us feel more present and less rushed. It causes us to be more kind to one another, which enhances overall quality of life. Click here to learn more.

3. Working with emotions

Use the S.T.O.P. practice to respond to thoughts, emotions and daily stressors, instead of reacting to them. This also is a simple way to give your nervous system a break.

All emotions have a function, even the more challenging ones. For instance, anxiety shows up when we care about the outcome of something and guilt shows up when we know we could have been better. Sometimes, we misinterpret the emotion—for example, “This anxiety means I’m going to mess up.” And then we try to get rid of it through avoidance. Research shows if we can turn toward and create space for the emotion, it tends to move on or we learn how to better work with the emotion instead of having it work against us. Click here to learn more.

4. Expressing gratitude

Write a letter or send a text of gratitude to someone important in your life or share your gratitude in-person.

Research shows that this simple act increases feelings of happiness and life satisfaction and decreases depressive symptoms—and, depending on the gratitude activity, effects can last up to one month. Click here to learn more.

5. Random acts of kindness

Take a moment to do something kind for someone—or for yourself! It can be something little or big.

Research indicates that engaging in random acts of kindness has a multitude of positive effects, including: increased feelings of connection, energy, happiness and strength; and decreased symptoms of pain, stress, depression, anxiety and blood pressure. Click here to learn more.

There will be prizes!

Each day this week, we invite you to engage in one of the resilience strategies listed below and share your experience on Instagram.

Use the hashtag #ResilientU, post before 4 p.m. and you’ll be eligible for a daily prize drawing.

Your profile must be public for us to see your post.