Last month I had the distinct honour of speaking at the 5th Convening of the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network for Post-Disaster Recovery as part of a panel discussing Innovative Approaches to Mental Resilience.
Following the devastating 2017 hurricane season, local leaders from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda approached President Bill Clinton to help them build back better. In response, the Clinton Foundation launched the CGI Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery - bringing together leaders from across sectors to develop new, specific, and measurable plans that advance recovery and promote long-term resiliency across the region. In the wake of natural disasters the need for mental health support spikes to even higher levels and there are often not enough existing resources accessible. Being affected by a natural disaster can no doubt trigger elevated and prolonged states of stress. It was an honour to be invited to share my thoughts on how mindfulness can be used in our communities to reduce the harmful effects of this chronic stress on the mind and body, and boost resiliency in the short and long term, as part of Executive Session panel discussion Innovative Approaches to Mental Resilience.
In this session, participants learned about successful, non-traditional mental-health interventions and how they can be leveraged to support individual coping and wellbeing in the aftermath of a catastrophe. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond wisely to stress and perceived threats, rather than automatically and trigger potentially harmful consequences. In addition to the many benefits of regular mindfulness practice, such as: · Stress reduction · Fewer or less severe physical symptoms of chronic pain · Greater self-confidence, optimism, and assertiveness · Emotional regulation · Bolstered immune system · Reduced intensity of depression and anxiety it also helps with psychological resilience - the ability to effectively cope with adversity, manage difficult emotions and bounce back from difficulties. Research shows us that as we become more mindful, we broaden and build our inner resources that help us strengthen our resilience (Fredrickson, 2001).
You can learn more about the Clinton Global Initiative and their work in the region HERE.