Bouncing back from tough times

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It never rains but it pours.

Between the recent tragic loss of young lives and the Covid-19 lockdown, the past few weeks have seen a lot of rain figuratively dumped on our community and our young people.

How we all weather the storm and bounce back from loss and adversity says heaps about our individual and communal resiliency.

Supporting young people to bounce back from whatever life throws at them is an endeavour close to our hearts at the YMCA. We’ve been doing that for the past five years in secondary schools throughout the region through our Resiliency Toolkit programme.

At the Y we embrace the reality that everyone is different, everyone makes mistakes (and deserves a second chance) and everyone grows at their own pace (which can sometimes be one step forward, two steps back).

If you’re supporting a young person to work through tough times or grief and be resilient, here are some tips you may find helpful.

1. Offer your support and a listening ear, even if they haven’t asked for help. And listen carefully to them, without offering up advice right away. Letting them talk out their thoughts and emotions without interruption or judgement can be very cathartic. It can also empower them to find their own solutions.

2. Reassure them that their feelings of grief, anger, anxiety, etc. are normal and to be expected, and that they will get through this onslaught of emotional distress. Don’t take their anger or other feelings personally. Assure them you are a safe person to talk to anytime they need to.

3. Give them some space and private time, but check in with them regularly. Encourage them to connect with their friends during and after lockdown when it is safe, of course.

4. Cut them some slack encourage them to go easy on themselves, too.

5. Encourage them to stick to routines as much as possible. Routines provide both comfort and a sense of normalcy during stressful times.

6. Support their self-care getting enough sleep, eating properly, being physically active during the day, taking regular breaks from social media and chats that can sometimes amplify stressful feelings.

7. Help them put things in perspective. The very thing that has them stressed out may be all anyone is talking about now. But eventually, things change and tough times end.

If they’re worried about whether they’ve got what it takes to get through this, help them to recall a time when they faced their fears, whether it was asking someone on a date or applying for a job.

Help them learn some relaxation techniques: visualising a peaceful place, thinking of a particular song in times of stress, or just taking a deep breath to calm down.

If you talk about tough times/memories, make sure you talk about good and so-so times/memories as well.

Nobody is exempt from tragedy and bad stuff happening to them or their family. But together, we can help each other to bounce back.