Is Grit and Resilience Real? And How Do You Get It?

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[MUSIC PLAYING]

JOHN WHYTE: Hi, everyone.

I’m Dr. John Whyte, Chief

Medical Officer of WebMD.

For the past few months,

I’ve been talking to experts

about COVID-19

and the effects

of the pandemic as part

of our daily news

show, called Coronavirus

in Context.

How can we stay safe

during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Wash hands, wear masks,

clean surfaces, stay six feet

apart.

That’s all true.

But it’s only focusing

on our physical health.

We need to take care

of ourselves

mentally and emotionally

as well.

Arianna Huffington talked

about the fear of uncertainty

and how that causes us to double

down on our bad habits.

We’re seeing alcohol sales

and smoking rates skyrocket.

We’re eating unhealthy foods

and experiencing

coronavirus insomnia.

Her secret to mental resilience

is microsteps–

tiny daily incremental steps

that end up

with healthy behavior.

What are some

of these microsteps?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So let me

give you– we have over 1,000.

JOHN WHYTE: OK.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But I’ll

give you my favorites when it

comes to mental health.

JOHN WHYTE: Sure.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON:

The first one is, establish

a cutoff every day

when you stop consuming

coronavirus news.

JOHN WHYTE: [LAUGHS] Yes.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I totally

get it–

that we want to be informed.

But consuming coronavirus news,

some of which

is tragic and heartbreaking–

JOHN WHYTE: Yes.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: –just

before you go to bed

is going to make it harder

for you to sleep, harder for you

to go back to sleep if you wake

up in the middle of the night.

And sleep

is foundational to our immunity

and to our mental health.

JOHN WHYTE: That’s right.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And let me

give you another small one.

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Before you

go to sleep, before you turn off

the lights, take your phone

and charge it

outside your bedroom.

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Over

70% of the world wakes up,

and before they’re fully awake,

goes to their phone.

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And you

don’t know what’s there.

It can be something–

JOHN WHYTE: Right.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: –really

stressful.

So another microstep is take–

take one minute–

60 seconds– to focus

consciously on your breath,

to set your intention

for the day, to remember what

you are grateful for, whatever

you want.

JOHN WHYTE: Sure.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But you have

one minute to almost, like,

put your arm around, prepare

yourself for what the day

brings, because we don’t know

what the day is going to bring.

JOHN WHYTE: That’s right.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And can I

mention one other?

JOHN WHYTE: Sure.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Any time you

are washing your hands,

remember three things you are

grateful for.

JOHN WHYTE: Oh.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Gratitude

changes the neural pathways

of the brain.

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

Tim Tebow shared this reminder–

that, let’s not let moments

of adversity define us.

I asked him, how do we stay

positive, recognizing that this

is not a year any of us

expected?

You have a lecturer where you

talk about, this year may not

be the year you expected.

And that was done prior

to this year.

So clearly, this is not a year

that most people expected.

How do you stay positive

during these times?

TIM TEBOW: Yeah.

That’s a really good question,

John.

You know, thanks for asking.

I think it’s important.

I think– I think faith, hope,

and love, I think encouragement

right now,

I think having real passion

and purpose for things

are all things that I think

our society needs

and, honestly, the world needs

right now.

And for me, I think how I would

want to encourage

all the listeners is to say

that this might be a setback

and it might be a knock down

and it might be a hurdle

and it might be

disappointing for you,

but in every one of those ways,

it’s an opportunity for you

to learn, for you to grow,

for you to adapt,

and for you to be better.

And as the story goes,

in the mid-1600s,

in a pandemic like this,

Isaac Newton came up

with gravitational theory.

JOHN WHYTE: I did not know that.

TIM TEBOW: And he didn’t, you

know, wait around, saying,

there’s nothing I can do right

now.

It was an opportunity where you

can have purpose, passion,

and meaning.

Right?

You might not be able to do what

you want to do, but it doesn’t

mean that you can’t do anything.

Right?

So I want to encourage people

that you might not

be able to travel the world

right now, but you can help

your neighbor.

You can find something

that you’re passionate about.

And you can work on it.

You can build it.

You can make a difference.

You can do something.

JOHN WHYTE: So now we have

a new normal.

And that’s going to take time

to adjust to.

Doctors Lieberman and Mayer

from the Department

of Psychiatry at Columbia

explained that if you’re having

a hard time adjusting,

reach out to family and friends.

Talk to your doctor.

Seek help.

I wanted to ask both of you,

what tips would you give people

or caregivers to recognize when

someone needs help?

That’s not always that easy

for some folks.

They think they’re doing OK,

or they think everyone else is

in the same place.

LAUREL MAYER: I think, if you

have the question,

do I need help, reach out.

Just having that question says,

maybe you do.

So ask.

JEFFREY LIEBERMAN: I think

that everybody benefits from it.

When you say, needs help,

you know, we’re running

a marathon, and the problem is

that we can’t pace ourselves,

because we don’t know

if the marathon is going to be

a half marathon

or a full marathon

or an Ironman marathon.

And everybody, as Laurel said,

needs help.

To be COVID safe,

we have to be together safe,

because we’re not going to be

able to do it alone,

because everything is

interdependent.

JOHN WHYTE: So where should

people go for help?

JEFFREY LIEBERMAN: Well, people

should be able to access

mental health through the health

care system that’s available.

So if you have a primary care

doctor, you can start

with that person.

Say, look, I really need to see

a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Is there somebody you could

refer me to?

In the absence of that,

you look on the website

of the local, particularly

academic, medical centers.

And they should have means

to call a hotline to first get

screened and then referred.

Reach out to friends,

and communicate with friends,

because that ability to connect

with individuals, particularly

those that are able to be

supportive to you,

can be helpful in and of itself.

But, as Laurel said, don’t wait.

Don’t hesitate.

Err on the side of reaching out

rather than waiting until you

think, it gets so bad,

I have to reach out.

JOHN WHYTE: Our goal at WebMD

is to provide you the best

information

and help you manage

your physical, emotional, and

mental health.

I appreciate you taking the time

to watch.

And I look forward

to your feedback.

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