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Graphic the text "Reach Out to Build Reslience"

Healthy human relationships are some of our most valuable resources. Social support from family, friends, co-workers, and neighbor is essential to our daily lives. These vital connections provide meaning and purpose and can improve our health and well-being. Most importantly, these relationships help us through times of stress, crisis, and uncertainty. 


As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the globe and in our communities, many of us are hearing and using a new term – social distancing. According the CDC’s Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities   website, social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. Congregate settings are crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, and stadiums.  


But social distancing does not have to mean social isolation – especially if we want to maintain our resilience. We still need to stay connected to our family, friends, colleagues, and community.  


Following key principles of personal, team and community resilience can help us all better navigate the challenges ahead together – and stay connected. 

  • Stay positive. Negativity, panic, and fear only undermine the team and result in irrational actions. Seek out positive people in your life who will help you weather the storm.
  • Take care of yourself. Work to maintain your routines and keystone habits of regular exercise, quality sleep and healthy eating. Focus on strengthening one of those keystone habits to feel stronger and improve your immune system.
  • Use active problem solving. Focus on facts and science to understand the reality of the situation, including the disease and how it is transmitted. Use and get comfortable with the various telework tools to keep productive as we look for new ways to work remotely.
  • Share what you know and do it regularly. Timely sharing of new information goes a long way to build trust and transparency. Open communication lets you know where the organization is headed. Healthy communication also includes the ability to say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”
  • Make time to unwind. After reaching out to colleagues and friends during the day, find some time to unwind. Take a break from the news and social media and set aside time for unplugged activities. Use this time for meditation, prayer, or gratitude journaling.

So, reach out to family, friends and co-workers during this time of uncertainty. All of us have an incredible ability to adapt to stress and overcome uncertainty in times of crisis – but we are best when we can do it together. Remember that we each have opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t underestimate your impact.

About the Authors: Peter Redmond is the the Director of the Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience (CEFAR) at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Eric Cipriano is a resilience instructor and trainer at the Foreign Service Institute.  

U.S. Department of State

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