Let’s face it: life can throw us some mean curveballs sometimes. And the impact of those curveballs can often result in a host of unpleasant feelings, including panic, fear, pain, and anguish.
So when we find ourselves curled in a ball, sobbing on the bathroom floor, what’s the key to making sure we don’t let despair and depression take over our lives?
Resilience helps us to cope and adapt positively when faced with stress and adversity. It increases and protects our psychological and physical wellbeing, and it promotes personal growth and success.
But how do we boost our resilience?
Well, there are a number of ways, but here are 3 that you can start working on today (plus some practical exercises and examples):
1. Find and cultivate a support network
Having someone to talk to, or even just hug, reminds us that we are not alone and that there are people who care about us. Sharing our situation and feelings can help us gain clarity, discover new perspectives, and look at problems from different angles.
Things to try:
- Make a list of people and organizations you know you can turn to in a crisis or when you’re having a bad day.
- If your list is looking a little sparse, why not join a social or volunteer group to meet new people and start building relationships? Check out your community center, church, or even on sites like Meetup.com and Yelp to find out what’s available in your area.
2. Practice gratitude
Start paying attention to all the positive things in your life, especially those that you may have started taking for granted. Take stock and let yourself feel good about these things. Noticing and appreciating the things that are going well in our lives can help put adversity and tragedy in perspective. Practicing gratitude can help us find meaning in adverse events, develop skills and resources to cope, and identify alternative ways to think and respond when faced with a difficult situation.
Things to try:
- Write in a gratitude journal.
- Do a gratitude visualization/meditation.
- Create a victory log to record your accomplishments.
3. Exercise your mind
Resilient people are good problem-solvers and creative thinkers. They see possibilities and recognize opportunities. Getting in the habit of brainstorming (mentally or on paper) about various possibilities, potential solutions, and alternative perspectives can go a long way toward making us more strategic and resourceful. Reading and listening to other people’s ideas will expose us to different perspectives and attitudes, help us become more open-minded, and remind us that there are often several ways to look at and deal with a given situation.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What would someone with a very different set of beliefs say and do about [specific situation]?
- What other things may have caused or contributed to this?
- What other ways can I respond to this and what are the pros and cons of each way?
- What’s the opportunity here?
Other things to try:
- Try some strategy and brain training games.
- Journal and make written mind maps
The wonderful thing about resilience is that it isn’t a fixed trait and it isn’t an extraordinary characteristic that you either have or you don’t have. You can build up your resilience levels just like you build up your physical strength and skills.
Will you try any of the exercises mentioned in this post? Let us know in the comments. 🙂