5 Tips to Build Resilience Amid a Surge in PTSD

Evian Gordon, MD, PhD., chief medical officer of Total Brain offers context and strategies to adapt to the current adversity


SAN FRANCISCOSept. 8, 2021 — Covid-19 has cast a long shadow. For nearly two years, Americans have been riding a virus-fueled rollercoaster. Chronic pandemic-induced stress and anxiety have taken their toll on mental health. Most notably, positive screening for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is surging nationwide. According to the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, self-reported severe disturbances in thoughts and feelings are up 83% compared to pre-COVID survey scores. PTSD is a mental condition typically caused by experiencing or witnessing a severe physical or mental trauma.


According to Evian Gordon, MD, Ph.D., founder of the largest standardized international database of brain function and the chief medical officer of Total Brain, a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care app, “With COVID-19, we are being bombarded with an accumulation of intense micro emotional hijacks – of ongoing traumatic uncertainties. The relief of vaccination followed by the rapidly transmitted Delta COVID variant, the polarization of information played out in the media, and the back and forth of bad news, good news, bad news is driving fear, anxiety and stress.”


Added Dr. Gordon, “Resilience is what helps us adapt to this adversity, which is why it’s such an important skill to hone, especially this year amid an alarming rise in uncertainty. We can train our brains to overcome the thoughts and behaviors that reduce our ability to withstand and overcome micro and macro traumatic events.”


Here Dr. Gordon offers five tips to build resilience to counteract the effects of the current traumas.




Consciously shift your mindset so that you can look at adverse situations through a different lens. Shed yourself of limiting thoughts by giving yourself a new positive point of view and context. Reframing can help you become more cognitively flexible, including thinking more long term than short term. When you can see more than one path forward, especially when confronted with changing circumstances, you can more effectively adapt to reach your desired goals and behaviors.




Focus on what you can control and not on what you cannot.  When we spend time trying to focus on what we cannot control, we waste time and energy. We become frustrated and less effective in meeting our goals.


Nudge positivity


Nudge as many of your approximately 50,000 thoughts a day, in a positive direction. Positivity is contagious, as is negativity. Studies show that our “safety first” brain’s default thinking mode is not set on positive. In fact, researchers estimate that around 70% of our daily thoughts are inherently negative. Many people’s brains are pre-occupied with self-criticism, pessimism, fear, worry and other negative thoughts. It is therefore empowering to make a conscious effort to really tune into positive feelings and gratitude for what is working. A simple way to do so is by practicing positive affirmations. Affirmations are statements that are repeated to nudge the brain’s thoughts and attitudes, such as: I find joy, I can control my thoughts, I am adaptive, I am solution focused.


Reduce stress


Being “present in the moment” is the key to stress reduction. Our brains are readily hijacked by past regrets and future worries. Be present with awareness via slow breathing: breath in to the count of four and out to the count of six. As you breath out,  think of your most positive meaningful word. Also explore and discover the mindfulness mediation app that works best for you.


Deepen your social connections


When your path forward is blocked, how do you get around it? You may feel stuck and helpless. Having a social support system is helpful in getting you to push through when things become difficult. Find a family member, friend, or join a group of like-minded individuals. When you’re having a hard time, draw on your quality social support as a source of strength to overcome adversity.

Resilience is not as simple as a trait that people either have or don’t have. It is a set of behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed. Building resilience requires small daily step training, with an open mind and a positive attitude. It can be significantly enhanced and incorporated into your daily life.


SOURCE Total Brain

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Kelly Faville
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