Nurture Resilience

Life is often known to throw curveballs.  Unexpected challenges come up every day, and how we cope with them affects our emotions and our level of stress.  Some people are naturally more resilient than others.  They handle problems as they arise, without becoming too overwhelmed, and without any lasting negative impact.  That’s great if you were born that way, but the rest of us have to learn how to cope, and recover once we’ve faced down a problem.

The good news is, studies have shown that we can increase our level of resilience.  One way is to start acting like a person with good coping skills.  Resilient people have been shown to have a more optimistic attitude.  They are hopeful that things will get better, and they can recognize a challenge as an opportunity for growth.  If our thoughts don’t naturally see the positive, we have to cultivate it.  This means monitoring our thoughts for negative, self-destructive talk, and replacing it with something more encouraging.  This is really hard at first, but your optimist muscles will strengthen the more you work at it.  Incidentally, that’s another quality of resilient people: they persevere.  Remind yourself to stick to your goals, it’s another opportunity to work on being hopeful.

Naturally resilient people don’t weather every storm on their own.  They recognize the need for good support, and use it.  So we can emulate them by building our own support network.  This implies that we recognize when we need help, and then go ask for it.  This is also a skill that may need developing, or we may find we need to cultivate more personal relationships.  Adult friendships tend to get pushed to the back-burner, as family and work take priority.  It can create a sense of vulnerability to try to make new friends, or strengthen bonds we’ve already created.  But resilient people take risks, and see challenges as an opportunity for growth.  Remind yourself of the good that will come from surrounding yourself with supportive people.

The last thing I’ll mention about resilient people, is that they use a toolbox full of coping skills.  This includes things like taking care of themselves physically, getting enough rest and eating well.  Resilient folks know they can’t keep up with life if they are unhealthy.  Coping skills also include ways to relax when stress and anxiety arise.  Meditation, exercise, breathing techniques, these are all tools to help us keep going when things get tough.

Consider making a toolbox for yourself, if you’re trying to build your resiliency.  Include phone numbers of supportive friends or family to remind you to ask for help when needed.  Sign up for some positive or spiritual emails, like Tiny Buddha, or Notes from the Universe, to remind you to look on the bright side.  Fill your home screen on your computer or phone with beautiful images or quotes, and consider using an alarm to remind you to take a break and breathe.  Resiliency can be nurtured with these techniques.  If just one of life’s challenges feels easier because of the skills you’ve developed, it will all be worth it.

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