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

4 Min Read

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.

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!

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

4 Min Read

Tips To Help Women Move Beyond #OKBoomer at Work

When I first heard #OKBoomer, I cringed and thought — here we go again.

Yet another round of generation bashing, this time Millennials against Baby Boomers. This new social media conflict will not help workplace dynamics.

Throughout my career, I've heard countless rants about long-established workplace norms that younger generations perceive as overly repressive rules that subvert identity, familial obligations, civility, and respect for the environment.

I get it. I remember how I felt early in my career being told that I couldn't wear pants, had to wear pantyhose (even in 90-degree weather) and that I wasn't allowed to speak to executives. Seriously?

Gen X here to the rescue.

Sandwiched between the much larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, Gen Xers are often overlooked. Please allow me to build a bridge to the opportunity ahead.

For me, the generation challenge is a communications opportunity. And the stakes are high, because we spend about 70% of our day communicating. Within that timeframe, we spend about 45% listening, 30% speaking, 16% reading, and 9% writing.

By 2030, most Baby Boomers will have retired, and approximately 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. That gives us about a decade to continue working together to create a work environment that is better for women, people of color, and the younger generations.

As a multigenerational workplace scholar, I'm often asked, what is a generation, and why do they matter?

Karl Mannheim, the founder of sociology, concluded that key historical events significantly impact people during their youth. Essentially, when you were born and what was happening where you lived during your formative childhood years, help define what is important to you and help set your value system.

Think of it this way, if the games you played growing up allowed you to advance to the next level regardless of if it took one attempt or fifty, you might have a different perspective on what mastering a task looks like than someone who didn't.

If technology has almost always allowed you to be more efficient, you may seek to perform a job as quickly as possible, so that you are being productive, not because you are looking for a short cut.

If the answer to any question was always a Google search away, you might get frustrated when your questions go unanswered and are told to figure it out.

These examples begin to explain why Baby Boomers and Millennials value different things. However, there are always going to be outliers. I study generational-related values, because they frame how we show up and what we expect when we come to work.

In my recent study of 1,400 Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z women, I examined strategies for communicating. I was particularly interested in interpersonal communications — the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages. It turns about that the most essential characteristics by generation were active listening (paying attention to others), collaboration (teamwork), and empathy (showing understanding for others).

Baby Boomers believe they are best at "paying attention to others."

Given our hectic schedules at work, you may be tempted to multitask while speaking or try to get by gleaning the gist of a conversation in a conference call while working on a report at the same time. But this isn't deeply effective. Active listening is crucial because being highly engaged in a conversation helps everyone involved have clarity and alignment on exchange. It also helps build rapport and trust between participants.

Some practical ways to demonstrate active listening include:

  • Asking specific questions or paraphrasing what you've heard
  • Using non-verbal cues such as making eye contact and not looking at your device
  • Maintain body language that shows you are interested and the speaker has your full attention

Gen X believes they are best at "working with others."

Lots of us have heard the expression, "There's no 'I' in a team." Teams that collaborate well have a better chance for sustained and repeatable success.

Effective ways to demonstrate collaboration are:

  • Establishing clear goals and expectations for the team
  • Being accountable for the team and yourself
  • Providing and being open to feedback

Both Millennials and Gen Z believe they are most effective at "showing understanding for others."

The workplace is more diverse than ever before. Some organizations may have a Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, Millennial, and a Gen Zer, all working alongside each other. By showing empathy, we can demonstrate that we appreciate and respect each other's perspectives and are open to understanding how they feel about a situation, idea, or concept.

Effective ways to demonstrate empathy are:

  • Listening without judging or forming an opinion
  • Being slow to criticize
  • Acknowledging the other person's feelings as valid for them

So, instead of dismissing a generation with a hashtag, let try to open a dialogue. For example, next time you are working a Baby Boomers demonstrate that you are actively listening to what they are saying. Try sending a summary email about your deliverables on an assignment Gen Xers to highlight your collaborative skills. And take time to let Millennials and Gen Z know that you appreciate and understand their point of view.

If you'd like to hear more on this subject, you can listen to my recent Ted Talk here: