• Jonathan Cresson

Remaining Resilient during COVID-19

Resilience: The ability to recover, adapt, and grow in response to threat or challenge.

Human beings are inherently resilient. Research cannot point to any single factor that helps certain people build resilience more than others, but a strong support system and access to social resources seem to be a reoccurring influence. I have witnessed such immense resilience from our employees across Relay before the pandemic and even more so now. It is important to remember that resilience may look different from person to person depending on mental health, trauma history, disability, and what support systems and resources you have access to.

According to the Association for Psychological Science (APS):

As our nation and the world deal with COVID-19, the key psychological objective for most people is to try and keep stress at a minimum. Everyone is adapting to the new reality, which includes the fear of viral spread, self-quarantine, isolation, supply shortages, and lost wages.

This is also on top of a possible history of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. To overcome the stresses of these situations and remain resilient throughout, it is important to use the tools we already have at our disposal, including:

Staying optimistic

It is very hard for many of us to feel optimistic right now and we don’t want to minimize that. We can’t force ourselves to be optimistic any more than we can force ourselves to be happy. Rather, we need a reason to be happy, just like we need a reason to laugh or smile. Give someone a reason to be happy or laugh or smile and they will. Try to force them to and they will show fake happiness or forced laughter or an unnatural smile.

What we can do right now is intentionally and mindfully look for the things in our life that give it meaning, even the small things.

  • Tragic optimism - The term was coined by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist from Vienna. Tragic optimism is the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in life despite its inescapable pain, loss, and suffering. I hope to visit this concept in another session but wanted to get you familiar with the term since you may see it being referenced in the media right now.

Relying on the support of others/asking for help

Reach out to a safe support system that is available to you or find a professional to talk to like a therapist. As always, please reach out to our Relay HR Team if you need someone to talk to or need assistance getting connected to professional help.

Keeping informed but not overindulging in media consumption

Staying informed helps us stay safe but being plugged in for too many hours a day can create higher levels of anxiety.

Maintain a routine

As much as possible, social distancing should not disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, working hours, and daily activities. But don’t be too hard on yourself either. If you used to shower in the morning, try and shower every morning. If you used to go to therapy once a week, try a virtual therapy session once a week.

Find ways to minimize isolation

This one is hard — especially when compounded with things like depression. If possible, try to increase joint family activities, and bonding with friends and colleagues by phone, video, email or, dare I say, write a letter! Writing letters engage practices that are considered within psychotherapy to be mindfulness. When we put pen to paper, we tend to be more reflective, insightful, vulnerable, and sensitive about what we write.

This is not easy, but we can do it. Human beings have shown abundant psychological resilience in the face of just about any adversity imaginable.

Mindfulness activity: 5,4,3,2,1 exercise

We often get stuck thinking about how things used to be or anxious about what may happen in the future. The technique below, when practiced daily, may help you to reduce stress, anxiety, and feel more present.

In your mind, list:

  • 5 things you can see

  • 4 things you can feel

  • 3 things you can hear

  • 2 things you can smell (or like the smell of)

  • 1 thing you’re grateful for


Cultivating Resilience is a twice-weekly video conference series curated by Relay Resources Learning & Development Manager, Jonathan Cresson. The series was started during COVID-19 to allow employees time for sharing and provide them with a new tool or technique to help focus on resilience while managing the overwhelming emotions they may be feeling. This blog series captures the topics covered.

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