Building resilience: How to strengthen your resilient self?
Resilience does not reveal itself only when overcoming major traumas or negative events. Resilience can be developed in your everyday life, in the small things you do and how you manage daily stress and challenges.
Last year was an outstanding reminder that adversity can strike unexpectedly. Despite the many hurdles and struggles you have endured since then, you are still standing. Perhaps not in your best shape, nonetheless a moment of self-reverence is well deserved.
When was the last time you gave yourself credit for your ability to bounce back from unexpected setbacks? There is sometimes a tendency to undervalue our flexibility to adapt and reinvent ourselves. We play it small, murmuring inside, ‘This is nothing. There are people facing tougher realities’. That may be true, but it does not diminish your inner strength and capacity to rise in the face of difficulties.
It also happens that certain challenges take a heavier toll on you than others. Building and strengthening your resilient self, especially during adverse times, is therefore of great value.
Below are 5 strategies to help you keep moving forward on the road to resilience.
1. Strengthen your relationships: As humans, we seek for connection. Surround yourself by people who love you and support you. People who contribute to your sense of resilience. Especially during challenging times like the ones we have been going through, where virtual connection has been the main communication channel. Every chance you get, prioritize your relationships and bond the people who care about you. It may be a date night with your husband, which can also be spent at home while a neighbor or a friend takes care of your kids. It could be a lunch with a friend or a joint home office day with a colleague to change the scenery. Building your connections can also be achieved through a community. Maybe you have thought of joining a group or a local organization. It might be for social support or for a cause you believe in. What matters is that you feel welcomed and safe.
2. Foster wellness: One of the themes a couple of weeks back. Make self-care your priority. Not because you do not care about others, quite the opposite indeed. Taking care of yourself is a fundamental practice for your wellbeing as well as to build resilience. Working on your wellness starts with taking care of your body, though it does not stop there. Promote a positive lifestyle by having a balanced diet, ample sleep and regular exercise. Build more resilience not only by exercising your muscles, but also through the practice of mindfulness. We have talked about journaling a few times already as a way to check in regularly with yourself. There is also yoga, meditation, prayer. Something that keeps you connected with the present. We are not trying to mask any feelings, especially when it comes to stress or pain, rather to learn how to build and strengthen our resources to manage these emotions.
3. Find purpose: Often when someone mentions the word purpose, some of us may have a tendency to feel discouraged. Perhaps because it seems too much work or you have no clue what is your purpose. It does not necessarily mean soul searching though. You can find meaning – or purpose – in so many different ways. Helping others can be one of those things. It may be volunteering at a homeless shelter or being a supportive shoulder for a friend in need. When it comes to your own life, proactivity goes a long way. If you are going through a rough patch or you are feeling stuck, ask yourself what is one thing you can do move forward. Maybe it is as simple as one-hour walk every day to clear out your mind, or it could mean working on your resume and applying for jobs. One single step can make a huge difference, mostly when it is toward the direction you want to go. And do not throw away the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Going through hardship can surely make you feel vulnerable, but it is in that vulnerability that you gain a greater sense of inner strength and grow more resilient.
4. Embrace a positive mindset: Seems a tough one when the world around us keeps throwing curve balls at us. Regardless of how challenging it gets, remember that you are not helpless. You have the power to choose how you interpret and respond to a situation. You may not be able to change the event itself, but by changing how you respond to it you are already influencing its outcome. With change comes also acceptance. Accept that change is indeed part of life, meaning that sometimes you do not get what you wished or planned for. Rather focus on what you can influence to adapt to the new circumstances. Also, I bet it is not the first time you go through a hurdle. In other words, there is something to learn from your past. Looking back at those experiences, remind yourself what you have endured and find strength in what you have overcome. This shows you that resilient side of yours that keeps you moving forward.
5. Ask for help: No one likes particularly to feel vulnerable and for some people asking for help does not come naturally. However, asking for support does not make you less resilient. There are times when our inner resources are not enough to help us getting back on track. It is important to remember that you are not alone on the road to resilience. It could mean reach out to family and friends.Perhaps sharing tasks with your partner around the house or swapping responsibilities when it comes to the kids. Maybe it is calling or meeting a friend and share your feelings and what you are going through. Or asking for support from a colleague at work with a task you are struggling with. Seeking help from a professional or support group is always a possibility. Getting a different perspective from someone outside your inner circle can bring you more awareness helping you build more resilience. With this global pandemic going on, despite the reach of technology, feeling alone and alienated is not unusual. Strategies that were once in place may not be the best fit right now. Asking for help when in need reveals courage, not weakness.
We build resilience through our experiences, positive and negative. It is often in moments of adversity that we reclaim the presence of our resilient self. There is nothing preventing us though from working daily on our ability to overcome setbacks. The more robust your resilient self is, the more flexible you will be to adapt in the face of adversity. Do not wait until a crisis hit to work on your resilience. Keep feeding your resilient self with mental and physical activity, emotional awareness and social connections.
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