Building Resilience in Ourselves and Our Families

By United Family Healthcare 2021-06-15 17:04:35

What brought you to talk about building resilience? 

A lot of our difficulties stem from the idea that “I shouldn’t be having a hard time”. We’re really good at judging ourselves for not living up to expectations. My wife and I started working from home. I’m a mental health professional, and so is my wife, therefore our home should be the most centered, calm, and research-informed place, right? It is not.

There was too much yelling, too much stress, too many tears. I’d ask myself, “What’s wrong with us?” I would open my WeChat, and see what other people were doing: “I baked a pie with my kids”; “We did a unit on centipedes because we saw some while collecting leaves for an afternoon craft project.” And I’d think to myself, I couldn’t even find butter for the toast. It is easy to feel non-functional under that kind of pressure, so the talk on building resilience was born out of my own stress and anxiety.

The first thing we can do is not judge. We all need help, support, and assistance. 


What is resilience?

In Al Seibert’s “The Resiliency Advantage”, highly resilient people are described as those who are “flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly, and thrive in constant change. Most importantly, they expect to bounce back and feel confident that they will. They have a knack for creating good luck out of circumstances that many others see as bad luck.” They developed the ability to be better able to digest circumstances of their lives, to not experience them as detrimental but instead adapt to them.

Mindfulness includes three aspects. First, awareness, especially of things we are not typically aware of, for example, breathing. Second, non-judgment. Constantly assessing your situation has a strong correlation to increased anxiety. Third, acceptance. Acceptance is a choice to be satisfied by what you have. Developing your mindfulness practice, starting with just five minutes a day, can positively influence the rest of your day.


What is one small step anyone could take towards being more mindful, and therefore more resilient?

Set your phone aside for mealtimes, and even for 30 minutes after. Especially if you meet with someone, put your phone or iPad away, and don’t eat in front of the TV. Just be present.


What are some particular challenges these days?

One of the most important things we should realize is that post-pandemic we may think that things are okay, especially being here in China, but all of us are still being affected, sometimes on the unconscious level, by this globally increased anxiety. We have to acknowledge that all of this has an impact on our functioning: on how much anxiety we feel, and how much stress we hold. I noticed it as a parent. I’ve been a lot more stressed out at home, and it’s been a lot harder to pull myself from yelling at my children or doing some parenting thing that I know I’m not supposed to do. I’m not a psychologist at home, I’m a dad, I’m a husband. So I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t as functioning this year as I was before. And that’s disappointing, that’s hard for anyone to admit.


Dr. George Hu, PsyD 

Chief of Mental Health Shanghai United Family Pudong, president of Shanghai International Mental Health Association (SIMHA)

United Family Healthcare

Phone: 400 639 3900