It’s well known that in times of war greatest advances emerge … unfortunately, the pandemic is quite similar to a war and, therefore, we have to be willing to improve as much as we can.
Today our proposal is to improve your resilience. And to understand what does this mean, what it is for and how to do it; to start, we will tell you a curious story occurred during the II World War and the manufacturing of the Liberty ships.
On the icy day of January 16, 1943, the inhabitants of Portland, Oregon, heard a terrible roar. The SS Schenectady, a newly built ship was returning from offshore testing and suddenly fractured right in the middle . It was not the first time that this happened to a Liberty ship … in the time of war (years 1941-1943), the American shipyards had proposed to break records in the times invested to manufacture warships. They relied on a British design and, simply by changing the rivets for welds, they managed to reduce the manufacturing time from 230 days at the beginning, to a duration of 42 days, which was especially interesting in times of war.
After many hours of research and many scientific studies of the fractures, it was possible to locate the origin of the problem: the weld was not the reason for the break, it was the material selected . The material had low resilience. When you weld plates, you give the ship a property that can be dangerous: it has continuity, so a crack that appears in one corner can progress until it causes the ship to break in two, as seen in the previous figure. A HIGH RESILIENCE material is needed to avoid these problems.
What does resilience mean?
Resilience is defined as the ability of a material to recover its initial state when the disturbance to which it had been subjected has ceased. In this sense, we ask the material in the ship to be able to withstand cold, blows, loads and, although this requires effort, that its properties do not vary … To measure the resilience of a material, it is hit and it is analyzed whether the blow causes it to break or only deforms it … a material with high resilience will deform, but will not break. The one with little resilience, as a result of a blow, will fracture in a fragile way, as if it were a glass.
Is resilience a property for people?
A resilient individual is that one with capacity for resistance and, in addition, with the power to overcome adversity and traumatic events . If a metal can be broken under certain conditions, it seems perfectly possible that human beings “break” or crack when suffering and even more when suffering last months, as in the case of the COVID pandemic, where we are in a state of continuous uncertainty. But, just as Liberty ships were improved by changing the properties of the materials, it is up to us to improve our ‘properties’ and make us more resilient to be happier and make those around us (physically or by phone) happier.
How can resilience help us in these moments?
Resilience allows us to receive day after day, as has been the case since March, negative news about the health situation and to be able to cope with it. Somehow, it means knowing how to listen to these messages with the heart, we learn to manage them with the brain. There are many books that talk about resilience and, among other recommendations, the following guidelines are usually recommended to increase our resilience:
- improve our communication skills: if we learn to communicate with others, to tell them what we feel and listen to what they feel, we will release much of our anguish,
- worry only about what we can control. No matter how nervous or anxious we get thinking that the virus is with us, as we can do little about this. Worry only to learn and internalize the way in which we should live in times of COVID to avoid infecting ourselves and others,
- accept that you cannot always be happy. Although it is wonderful to laugh and be happy, it is evident that this time has associated suffering; If today it is not time to laugh, we cannot punish ourselves. Life is like that … sweet and sour … for sure, better moments are to come.
- Try to do something to remedy problems. Above all, trying to alleviate the suffering of others can give us good feelings and make us happy even under the worst situations.
- Think about what we did and now we don’t: trips, hugs, coffees, family meals… thinking about how we will do it again can help us to shorten the wait.
- Fill our days with tasks that we didn’t have time to do before. We have spent a lifetime saying ‘if I were home longer I would…’ And now, we are more at home…. We no longer have an excuse not to do it (closets, order photos, learn to sew, draw, write poetry, write letters to our loved ones, play sports, do hobbies, cook …)
- Practicing meditation or mindfulness, as we have already told in some previous news, meditation allows us to value the present and enjoy it as much as possible.
- And if you cannot handle it alone and the situation causes you a lot of discomfort, do not hesitate to turn to a professional to tell them about your problems. Psychologists and psychiatrists have experience and resources to help us cope better with life. Just like if you have a headache you take an aspirin, if you get overly anxious you need medicine for your brain and these professionals know how to give it to you.
MAPFRE Foundation on the article titled “The art of living with uncertainty”  recommends several tips to cope with the situation, that you can read in this link. We are summarizing these tips here:
- Live for today.
- Worry only about what depends on you.
- Know your emotions and accept them
- Avoid overinformation
- Change focus. Don’t just think about your worries.
- Be flexible and understand that these are not times to make plans
This pandemic has brought a great tragedy to our society; we were living so well that it seems impossible that this can be happening.
But, read positively, the pandemic is an opportunity to become better, to consolidate the resilience of each individual for a more mature society aware of its strengths and weaknesses.
In that sense, we are being witnesses that medicine and science are taking giant steps; telemedicine is more and more present in our lives and will undoubtedly be our solution to manage healthcare in an increasingly aging society. That’s why in i4life we know that engineering can enhance our quality of life.
Author: Marián García Prieto, PhD Mech Engineer. CEO and founder at i4life