Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Build Your Resilience to Stress


Resilience is the ability to withstand and bounce back from stress and adversity. It does not mean that stressful events do not occur or are not recognized or felt, but rather they are not the end game.

Resilience develops over the course of life as we gain experiences, knowledge, and see how the people around us cope with life’s inevitable bumps. You can learn how to be more resilient, change your perspective, and enjoy freedom from stress and anxiety. When you do, you’ll experience a greater level of happiness and contentment, better health, and a potentially longer life span.

Want some? Here’s the recipe.

Take one close network of family and friends and blend in a positive view of yourself, your strengths and your abilities. Add a sense of control over your reactions to strong feelings, and a heaping spoonful of access to help and resources for when you don’t feel in control. Chop up any victim mentality that you have lying around and toss it away; you won’t be needing any of that. Instead, double the quantity of seeking positive meaning in your life regardless of how dire the circumstances seem. Stir it up and spread liberally all over everything! Then, bake it in a warm heart and serve it to everyone you see. The only trick to this recipe is that resilience is never really done. It is a recipe that is always a work in progress.

If you don’t have all of those ingredients on hand, that’s OK. You can collect them.

Start by noticing the ratio of positive to negative reactions you have to stressful situations, and purposely reframe the negatives into positives. “This is going to be awful,” can turn into, “I’m sure there is a solution that I can accept.” Try to embrace change and look for opportunities to branch out in new directions. Do this consistently and intentionally, and you will find it becomes easier, and more liberating.

A close and supportive network of friends can be created by choosing to spend time with people who share your purpose in life. The support and camaraderie of people you can confide in will be a buoy when you think you may sink. Nurture yourself and make time for the activities that you enjoy and which support your healthy life. They will make you a more resilient care-giver.

If a positive and confident sense of self-worth is in short supply, begin making a list of personal attributes that you find valuable, even if no one else mentions or notices them. Notice when you reach a goal, no matter how minor. Ask a friend to tell you what they appreciate in you. You may be surprised to learn how awesome you are.

And finally, stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mark Twain famously said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” The shoe is not going to drop. There is no shoe. You are free to imagine the best case scenario: another day in paradise!

It is not necessary or realistic to live a life free from negative emotions. Rather, resilience comes in seeking to increase your ratio of positive to negative emotions. As you do, you will discover that it becomes easier to immediately see the possibilities instead of the problems and focus on the opportunities instead of the obstacles. It’s OK if you have never been this way before. You can start today, with your very next response when someone asks, “how’s it going?”

Heather Fuselier is a certified wellness coach and personal trainer. Learn more at WellnessWithoutPity.com.

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