'Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient' Dr. Steve Maraboli, author & behavioural scientist
There are are a lot of people having a tough time of it at the moment.
Indeed, challenges, tragedy and difficulties face every one of us at different times. No-one is spared and we generally don't get a say in what happens or when.
We do get to choose how we respond though. Resilience - the ability to bounce back when things get rough - is not something we are born with, although some people are tougher by nature than others. Resilience is something that we can build and develop and it's something we should work on every day so that we have it in our armoury when life hits a snag.
Five tips for building your resilience.
1. Your relationships are your anchor. Sheryl Sandberg, in her eloquent Facebook post following her husband's death opens by saying, 'I want to thank all of our friends and family for the outpouring of love over the past few days.' This reflects the response of so many people following the loss of a loved one or a major tragedy. Friends, family, colleagues, community, the many relationships in our lives provide us with the love, trust, support and encouragement we need to get through the tough times. The people in our lives can also act as great role models for how to cope with life's adversities. Nurture your relationships, share your worries and experiences, look at how others have coped, accept offers of help and offer your support when your friends and family need it. Many studies have shown that relationships are our number one source of resilience when things go awry.
2. There is a solution to every problem. We can't bring back a loved one, cure and incurable illness or insist an employer reinstates a job but we can find small ways to solve the immediate problems confronting us when these awful situations arise. The trick here is not to dwell on the difficulties but to look for the little things that will make the next moment better. Is there something that you can do to help someone else deal with the situation right now if others are affected? Is there something that you can do to feel better yourself? Take the small steps to solve the immediate problem, whether it's an episode of anxiety or grief, a need to make financial arrangements, an every day activity like taking the kids to school or buying food. Keep track of how you're feeling as you conquer the little tasks and note the subtle improvements in your state of mind as the days pass.
3. Keep moving forward. Set yourself some goals and keep taking steps to move towards them. They might be little goals to get you through the next hour or day or they might be big goals to improve your life in a significant way in the weeks, months and years to come. Make it a project and work towards achieving it with determination and dedication. Taking decisive action on a regular basis and thinking about the future rather than the past is a great way to build your resilience.
4. Take heart from your past. You may never have faced a challenge as tough as the one you're facing now but you have faced, and survived, challenges in the past. Draw on those successes. Think back on difficult times. How did you get through it? What worked? Who helped? How did you cope? Can you try that now? Give it a go.
5. Reflect on the bigger picture. This can be hard, very hard, when life has dealt you a really crappy blow but really resilient people find a way to look at the bigger picture and put the difficulty they are facing into some kind of perspective. Often this involves being grateful for all of the good things that you have in your life and reflecting, briefly, on how things could be worse - and are often worse - for others. Don't dwell on this but focus on the good things that exist in your life despite the difficulties.
6. Look after yourself. If you want to be resilient and weather life's storms you need to take care of yourself. You can build your physical and emotional resilience by making sure that you eat well, sleep well and get adequate exercise. That doesn't mean gym sessions or long runs, unless that's your thing, but it does mean getting physically out and about, preferably in fresh air. When we're down we can slip into bad habits. We eat badly, drink too much, don't get good sleep and may avoid leaving the house or interacting with other people. Set yourself some goals around improving your physical well being to cope with your situation and you will find that your emotional state improves too.
Finally, if you find that you are really struggling emotionally and things are not getting better with time, please do see your GP.
Do you have tips for bouncing back from tough times? What has worked for you? Share it here so that we can all benefit from your experience :-)