We all experience difficulties from time to time. It’s part of being human. However, building our resilience now can make it easier to deal with difficulty later, supporting our longer term wellbeing.
Resilience is the ability to adapt well to life’s challenges. Those with higher levels of resilience cope better during adversity, bounce back more quickly and experience less stress than those with lower levels of resilience.
Some of the key skills highly resilient people have include the ability to respond flexibly to change, keep a sense of perspective, see things from a different viewpoint and be creative in dealing with challenges. They still feel the same difficult emotions but are often able to find something positive or valuable in the experience and demonstrate characteristics such as gratefulness, forgiveness and hope.
The good news is that we all have the ability to increase our resilience in preparation for life’s ups and downs. Taking care of ourselves now, reducing our baseline stress levels, reviewing our attitude towards change, learning to be more ‘present’ (i.e. becoming more mindful), and developing the ability to find clarity in the midst of high emotion (mindfulness is useful for that too!), can all help towards building our resilience.
Building resilience: things to consider
To help you think about your own approach to building your resilience ask yourself: What things can I do now to ensure that I am more physically and emotionally equipped to deal with difficulty when it arises? Consider the following:
1. What is beneficial to my overall wellbeing? (You may like to think about what you enjoy, what helps you relax, what helps you feel energised and alive, what is meaningful to you, or what you would like to do more of.)
2. What things may be having a negative impact on my wellbeing? Would I like to make some changes?
3. Would it be valuable to review my usual thinking patterns, assumptions and behaviours? Are my habitual thoughts and behaviours helpful or counterproductive? Would it be beneficial to be open to new perspectives, ideas and ways of responding?
4. Am I properly taking care of my body and mind through nutrition, exercise, fresh air, rest, relaxation and sufficient sleep?
5. How do I presently deal with problems? Could there be a better way?
6. How do I presently view change? What could I do to help me better manage change, knowing that life never stands still?
7. Do I spend enough time alone? Too much time alone?
8. Do I have people I can turn to in times of difficulty? Would it be helpful to strengthen family relationships or build my social network?
9. How can I learn to think rationally during times of high emotion?
10. Would it be helpful to have a plan that I can turn to during times of stress?
Life, as we all know, doesn’t always go how we would wish and sometimes we get particularly unwelcome surprises. Resilience doesn’t make problems (or difficult emotions) disappear, but it can help you to keep calm, rationally assess the situation you’re faced with and make decisions from a position of clarity and equanimity. Building your resilience now can help you to deal more effectively with setbacks in the future.
© Michelle Drapeau, 2018