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I Live With PTSD Every Day: Here's How I've Learned To Increase Mental Resilience

4 Min Read
Lifestyle

What we are going through as a nation and a world is completely unprecedented in our lifetime. Other than finding reputable advice on COVID-19 from the CDC and WHO, we are all looking to one another for support to create a daily road map for this uncharted territory we are all traversing with high anxiety. Everyday, we are stuck wondering how we will get through this experience and questioning if we are making the right decisions or not. It is nervewracking. I know these feelings well, as I endured them for more than a year after the onset of PTSD back in 2016.

"Be gentle with yourself" means, you have to let sh*t go and remind yourself that you are already doing your best against all odds.

It is commonly known among mental health professionals and trauma victims that feeling powerless and unsafe in stressful situations can re-traumatize those who have experienced trauma in the past. In January, my husband was away on a business trip, so I was the only parent at home watching over the children. The overwhelming feeling of their protection at night being solely on my shoulders re-traumatized me, causing temporary paralysis while trying to sleep. As part of my goal to survive this awful global pandemic, I am striving to avoid re-traumatization, so that I can continue to run my business, homeschool my kids, tend to my own needs, and play an active role in my community. If I can do it, I know we all can. Here are my tips for staying calm and being resilient when we do not know what the future holds.

Take Back Your Power

I talk about this a lot on my Instagram TV channel because this is one of the best defense mechanisms for when you are panicking. Anxiety often springs from not having control over a thing or situation and ruminating on what could be. Most of those things that could be will not be in our control, so make a list of what you can control instead. Maybe it's what you decide to buy (or order) from the grocery store or how you set up your new daily routine. As you start to take more control over your day-to-day life, your anxiety will start to subside because you have strengthened your ability to stay in the moment.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Should you breathe? Yes. Should you take time to be alone or re-connect with others virtually as needed? Sure. But what about the self-imposed rules and burdens we put on ourselves based on our own high standards? My coping mechanisms have always been perfectionism and trying to control everything. "Be gentle with yourself" means, you have to let sh*t go and remind yourself that you are already doing your best against all odds. Did the kids watch TV for half of the day during the quarantine while you were working? So be it. You had a glass of wine on Wednesday when you typically wait until "Thirsty Thursdays"? Let it go and savor that sip. Now is a time to celebrate small wins. Be happy you have a TV and wine to drink!

Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of strength when you are willing to share that vulnerability with the people around you.

Read A Self-care Book

Space yourself from the pandemic news. When I was trying to prevent a downward spiral back in 2017, I started reading a book called 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do and it was one of the best resources I've ever had. I read it like I was back in college, underlining words of wisdom and taking the quizzes to understand my weaknesses and how I could turn them around. Currently, I am reading The Wisdom Of No Escape by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. Ironically, I was drawn to this book weeks ago, not knowing I would be quarantined with a 6-year-old and 5-year-old who would need to be homeschooled while I ran my public relations agency. Needless to say, I have definitely been meditating with my children every morning and reminding myself to find the joy in the little things these days to keep us all sane!

Know When To Ask For Help

It is okay to be vulnerable at times and ask for help or even just tell people that you are at your lowest low. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, it can be a sign of strength when you are willing to share that vulnerability with the people around you. For a long time, I never wanted any help from anyone. But a few years ago I realized just how bad of an idea that was. Now, by letting people in, sharing my struggles, and asking friends and family for support, I have become a much stronger person — a better leader, mother, friend, and wife.

Laugh And Have Fun

My kids constantly remind me that I could learn to have a little more fun in life. We all know laughing is good for the soul. Stream your favorite comedy, catch up on some movies, watch ridiculous viral videos on social media. Watch this video of a fun-loving citizen in Spain on lockdown leaving his house in a T-Rex costume. (Seriously, it's the laugh we all need right now!) I love playing dress-up with different colored wigs and have gotten my kids involved now too, which helps make an ordinary day stuck at home extraordinary and full of giggles.

Read more from Nubia DuVall Wilson on her Thrive Blog at nubiaduvall.com and follow her on Instagram and on Facebook @EncounterswithNubia

This article was originally published March 19, 2020.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.