Increasing Our Resilience

 

Virtually every day we have to deal with stress. Clearly too much chronic, day-in-day-out stress is bad for us, and we’ve learned about the physical and mental repercussions of that and strategies for managing them.

But unexpected things happen, and usually bring stress. How do we build the mental fortitude we need to deal with it? Believe it or not, we can practice skills to increase our resilience, so that when a major life event causes stress, we can cope. If we can deal with stress better mentally and emotionally, the physical effects will be lessened as well.

An article in the “New York Times” titled “How to Build Resilience in Midlife,” by Tara Parker-Pope gives us techniques to “stretch our resilience muscle.” Professor and author Dr. Adam Grant says, ““There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” and he claims that adults—because of the perspective that comes from life experience and (hopefully!) the ability to regulate our emotions—are in a great position to deliberately boost our emotional survival skills.

Here are the tips Parker-Pope recommends:

1. Be optimistic. As with most traits, optimism is part nature and part nurture. So even if we’re not natural born optimists, we can still work on increasing our positivity. That doesn’t mean we deny the reality of challenges or negative events. But we can always choose how to react to situations. The example she gives is when a person loses their job. An optimist would replace dire thoughts like “I’ll never recover from this,” with “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”

More and more research confirms that reframing how we look at things, and changing our internal dialog to more positive self-talk, really does improve our outlook and our ability to cope with the inevitable hurdles of life. So does surrounding ourselves with more positive, optimistic people.

2. Don’t take it personally. We are quick to blame ourselves when something bad happens, and ruminate about what we could have done differently. To build resilience, we can remind ourselves that even if we did make a mistake, there were likely numerous factors that contributed to the situation. It’s rarely ever ALL one person’s fault. Practice self-compassion (forgiveness!), and shift into problem-solving mode: what can we do now to repair any damage and prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future?

Smart companies have a corporate model of looking at mistakes as procedural, not personal, and they use the opportunity to refine processes and training.

3. Recall previous triumphs. We get a resilience boost by remembering challenges we have overcome in the past. Although a common strategy is to be grateful that things aren’t worse (and even calling to mind someone who has it worse than ourselves), a better exercise is to look back and say—I’ve made it through something even worse than this in the past. This is not the toughest thing I have ever faced or will ever face. I know I can handle this!

4. Be of service to others. While it’s really important to have a support network, it’s even more empowering to BE part of something larger than ourselves. Studies show that gratitude, altruism, and a sense of purpose lead to greater resiliency. Experts say a key component of being resilient is taking responsibility for our lives—creating a life we consider to be meaningful and finding our purpose. It doesn’t have to be a grand mission, but even if our purpose is to support our own family, that focus can see us through all kinds of adversity.

5. Make peace with stress. Stress is an inevitable element of life. Some would even argue that a little bit of stress is good for us and necessary. (Think how boring life would be with no challenges whatsoever!) So rather than resist it or dread it, one expert suggests we just welcome it as an opportunity for personal growth, AND create concrete opportunities to recover. Taking a walk, meditating, laughing with friends—we can schedule breaks from stress just as we schedule breaks from strenuous workouts.

6. Commit to a challenge. We can build resilience by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Take an adventure vacation. Climb a mountain! Or go skydiving. Or finish a half marathon or triathlon. Or share your writing at a poetry night. Or sing karaoke. Each time we rise to the occasion, our bodies become better at processing stress hormones. If we live our lives with regular opportunities to overcome stress, we get better and better at it. Then we are in a better position to cope when a crisis arises.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/mind/how-to-boost-resilience-in-midlife.html

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth Posted on August 1, 2017

Leave a Reply