Three Top Tips for Resilience
Winter has been a testing time so far with wild stormy weather outside and bugs spreading inside. I succumbed to flu on the day I was due to have a flu jab and missed a meeting with a health commissioner – ironically. My computer also went down with a virus and I had to get through 10 days with a bulging inbox before its replacement arrived. After the initial ouch I managed to lighten up and reframe events as a test of my resourcefulness. So it was good timing when this week I facilitated a session on resilience as part of the Happiness Habits. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and the positive news is that there are many common & garden ingredients that make up resilience – which is why it’s called ‘ordinary magic.’ Supportive relationships, self-esteem, a sense of humour, confidence, self-control and emotional intelligence are all in the mix. Here for the record are some of the most successful strategies for resilience.
1. Top up your reservoir of resilience by cultivating positive emotions. Engage with what brings you joy, laughter, hope etc. The more positive emotions you experience, the higher your level of resilience will be and you’ll be better able to sail over the rocks of life rather than crash into them. One of the current participants in the Happiness Habits has just experienced a relationship break-up but because we’re into Week 7 of the course her level of positive emotions has been increasing and she’s found it easier to bounce back from this break-up than a previous less significant relationship.
2. Stop the downwards spiral by challenging negativity with the tools of optimistic thinking. When a bad event happens broaden your thinking about the causes to include how it’s not personal, not permanent and not pervasive. Rather than blaming yourself there’s often more than one reason why things go wrong. Remind yourself that ‘this too will pass’ and that there are areas of life that are still OK. One participant used this when her family business was under threat. It helped to overcome the pessimism that can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy and now that the business is on the up again, she continues to use optimism tools.
3. Think back to previous times of adversity. How did you cope? What did you learn from the experience? What strategies and strengths helped you get through? You will already have a wealth of experience inside to draw on. As well as using yourself as a role model think of those models of resilience. People you know personally who’ve not only survived but thrived in adverse circumstances. Or people in the public eye such as Nelson Mandela in South Africa or Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma.