By definition, resilience is the ability for us to bounce back or recover after a difficulty. It is something we talk about when raising children but not so much in adulthood. In actual fact this may well be the time we need to talk about it most, when we are middle-aged and have a multitude of stressors coming at us from all directions.
Let’s face it, at this stage in life, we have realised it is not all plain sailing. There are bumps along the way, things we never ever saw coming, happen. Reducing stress is often not about avoiding these bumps but learning how to negotiate them and bounce back from them.
For a long time I have been stuck in a mindset of…………’well perhaps I should just avoid the situations that stress me’. It has taken me a long time to realise, this is not helping me, because it doesn’t allow me to practice and build my resilience for when the unexpected ‘bumps’ come along.
A little research in this area has come up with some helpful tips. I am going to put them in an order that is relevant to me, because I totally know how my brain works and what I think in these situations. It is likely that other stressaholics out there do the same. So here goes:
- Don’t personalise it. When anything goes wrong, the first thing I do is think…..what did I do wrong? Sometimes the answer is nothing. Sometimes it is a mistake I made but there are reasons for it and it wasnt intentional. Either way these thoughts are not helpful. Instead tell yourself the situation is not personal nor is it permanent.
- Remember the challenges you have overcome. Remind yourself that you have been through worse and came out the other side.
- Accept change. Nothing in life stays the same. So many people out there are resistant to change and forget that when things change, we are given an opportunity to grow and learn and these are never bad things.
- Practice optimism. Mum and Dad will laugh at this, I am forever the pessimist and this is not an easy thought pattern to change. But why do I do it? It certainly hasn’t served me well. Try maintaining a positive thought pattern and probably even more importantly surround yourself with positive people. Walk away from those who drag you down.
- Support others. It doesn’t have to be big, but this is part of developing a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Anything that you can do to support others in life helps you to move outside yourself, gain perspective and enhance your strength.
- Take breaks. Now this is an interesting point I have been making in previous blogs. We are never going to eliminate stress. We should be almost inviting stress into our lives as it allows us to grow and learn. But, we do need to allow yourselves time to have breaks from it. Time for the body and mind to recover.
- Challenge yourself. Whether it is training for a triathlon, retraining at work or sharing your secret desire to write ;>), any challenge you set for yourself is an opportunity for self-discovery. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you can accomplish.
As adults, we should be better practiced at self-control and self talk. Often we just need a little reminder or push in the right direction to help us build and grow. I read an article in the New York Times (25/7/17) that likened resilience to a muscle…………. we can work on strengthening it at any time. I love this analogy.