Monday’s blog contained a definition of resilience, as well as several traits of resilient people. If that list seemed foreign to you, I have some tips on how to build your resilience. But before I go into that, I must stress (no pun intended) the need for self-care right now.
Friends, you must take of yourself. And I think #1 on the list should be to purposefully UNPLUG. That’s right. Leave your phone at home. Turn off the TV. Stow the tablet. Give yourself a set time to use those items and then turn them off. It doesn’t mean you aren’t involved. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you are uninformed. It means you care about your sanity in a not-so-normal world right now. In addition, you can do things like take a walk and enjoy nature, listen to your favorite music, go to the gym, spend time with friends and family or do something creative that fully engulfs your mind. Get away from the craziness, reduce your stress, get happy, and above all be grateful for the wonderful things in your life.
Now on to resilience! First, let’s look back at the definition of resilience:
Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship. It is the mental reservoir of strength that people are able to call on in times of need to carry them through without falling apart.
Instead of falling into despair or hiding from problems with unhealthy coping strategies, resilient people face life’s difficulties head on. This does not mean that they experience less distress, grief, or anxiety than other people do. It means that they handle such difficulties in ways that foster strength and growth.
In many cases, they may emerge even stronger than they were before. 1
How can you boost your psychological strength in order to tackle the adversity that comes your way? Here you go:
Build your coping resources. Exercise, meditate, practice yoga or some other form of relaxation on a regular basis. These activities not only help you relax after a stressful day, they help you handle stress better in the future.
Be flexible. Trees and shrubs that don’t bend in the wind break. Learn how to go with the flow or you will break too. Begin by learning how to compromise. The sooner you learn that your way isn’t the only way, the sooner you will see how to move through a stressful crisis. It may be inflexible thinking that got you into that stressful crisis in the first place.
Seek support. Your closest friends, certain co-workers, family members, spiritual advisors and counselors can help you weather any storm. These are your pillars of strength. Don’t be afraid to lean on them in times of trouble. Tell these supportive people exactly what is going on: I’m having trouble financially. I feel really depressed. I am having trouble with co-workers who I thought were my friends. There is an old saying that applies here: A problem shared is a problem halved.
See setbacks as temporary. We all have a tendency to “awfulize” and believe that the worst possible scenario is the only scenario. Try your best to move through times of crisis knowing that eventually you are going to come out OK on the other side.
Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Before going to bed at night make a mental list of everything you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is one of the basic underpinnings of contentment and stress resilience.
Develop your spiritual resources. Strong spiritual beliefs are a great antidote for stress. When you truly believe that everything happens for a reason, your stress resilience is going to going to be improved.
Take action. Don’t let your problems cripple you to the point of inertia, or inaction. Take any action that moves you forward even if it is only a “baby step.”
Resilience is about facing stress head on and looking at stressful situations as opportunities for growth. Begin to see your stress like a professional athlete sees his or her workout: It’s how you get better at what you do. Your stress is like a workout for your mind. It builds character and exercises your problem-solving ability. It’s part of being human. When you see stress in this way — and learn to take it in stride — you will begin to appreciate life more, enjoy challenges and overcome obstacles that only temporarily block your way. And that’s how you build resilience. 2
If you want to be a change agent in this world, you have to take care of yourself and have strong resilience. When you are thriving, you have the ability to help others build their resilience. Soon we have an entire community of thriving individuals who can solve problems creatively and collaboratively and present them in a civil and caring way. This is what I believe contributes to true change.