Resilience is your ability to adapt to adversity or unexpected changes that occur in your life. Contrary to what many believe, resilience is not an inborn personality trait that some people naturally have and others lack. It’s a learned skill. And that’s good news because being resilient is one of the best ways to protect against the effects of stress.
Since we can’t completely avoid stress, the goal of effective stress management is two-fold: exercise good decision-making over the things you can control in order to minimize self-imposed stress, while being resilient toward the stressors you can’t control, such as sickness, accidents, and losses.
Here are three ways you can begin to build resilience to the stressful life events you might encounter.
Seek out supportive relationships
One of best ways to adapt to life’s challenges is to build and maintain positive and loving relationships. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this type of support. When you’re feeling stressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed, turning to trusted people in your life can give you a renewed sense of strength and cut through any distorted thoughts you might have about your situation.
Practice good self-care
Your ability to be resilient under stress requires you to have emotional and physical reserves to draw upon. One of the most important ways to build these reserves is by practicing good self-care. Start by getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating nutritious food, making time for recreation and investing energy into people and activities that are in line with your values.
You strengthen your resiliency when you are proactive but you weaken it when you become passive and reactionary. When you set goals for the future it helps propel you toward more action. It may take some time to recover from a setback or loss, but your situation will improve if you continue to deliberately work at it.
Even though no one likes the fact that hardship, trauma, sorrow, and pain are part of our lives, the question isn’t whether we will experience adversity but how we will manage it. If you learn to bend, become flexible and adapt to the new challenges that emerge, you know that you have learned resilience.
Gary Gilles, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
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