Wellness Strategies Can Boost Resilience
Beth Cabrera shared her expertise on positivity with tech students as a guest presenter in a five-week course called Resilience Building Strategies: Growing Through What We Are Going Through.
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Beth Cabrera is encouraged to see that society is more sensitive than ever to mental health issues.
Beth Cabrera, the first lady of Georgia Tech, is a psychologist and Tech graduate (MS PSY 1993, Ph.D. PSY 1995). His research focuses on the power of positive psychology to achieve greater success and well-being. For the past few years, she’s been sharing her expertise on positivity with tech students as a guest speaker in a five-week course called “Resilience Building Strategies: Growing Through What We Are Going Through.” It was developed in 2019 by Sonia Alvarez-Robinson, executive director of Georgia Tech Strategic Consulting, and Joi Alexander, director of Health Initiatives.
“Social support is the number one factor in well-being,” Cabrera said. “We need people. It’s an evolutionary thing, because in the days of the cavemen, if you didn’t have your tribe to help keep you safe, you died. You couldn’t survive. only.
Today, due to physical distancing in work and social environments caused by the pandemic, many people are less connected to others.
“Some people feel like they’re connected because they use social media, but it’s not the same kind of connection,” she said. “We are less connected to our communities. We are not as involved in our churches or different associations. During the pandemic, physical distancing was important, but not social distancing.
Cabrera said having a positive attitude and experiencing happiness are also important for well-being. But she said “being happy” shouldn’t be the goal.
“There’s a difference between doing things that make you feel positive emotions and aiming to be happy,” she said. “Being happy all the time is never going to happen, so if you set a goal to be happy, you will always fail.”
Instead, Cabrera suggests engaging in activities that make you happy. It could be anything from reading to exercising to hanging out with friends. The result will be a feeling of happiness that can be repeated as needed.
Positive psychology does not mean that you deny your negative feelings. “Positive psychology recognizes first and foremost that we are human and that humans are going to experience a wide range of emotions,” she said. “It’s very important to accept all of your emotions, good and bad. We know that if you try to ignore or suppress any of these negative emotions, they just get stronger.
Cabrera is encouraged to see that society is more sensitive than ever to mental health issues.
“I started talking to companies in 2004 about employee well-being, telling them that it was actually linked to performance. Happy employees will be smarter, more creative and they will work better together,” she said. “Today there is an increased awareness of the importance of mental health and the need to help people deal with these issues.”
Alvarez-Robinson said, “Having Dr. Cabrera join our class has been a highlight of the student experience since we started the class in 2019. We recognized that our students needed additional skills to navigate the change, challenges and uncertainty. We offered it as part of the mini-mester pilot program and the first cohort launched in spring 2020.”
The one-credit course will be offered again in the fall and is listed as Resilience Building Strategies 4801/8801 (cross-list for undergraduate and graduate students).
A recording of Cabrera’s most recent workshop, as well as other related sessions, is available on the Georgia Tech Resilience ERG website.
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