In the first quarter of 2021, we’ve made much progress in the fight against Covid, and yet far too many people are struggling because their lives feel far from normal.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to manage such challenges more easily than others who worry incessantly about everything, including things completely out of their control?
One of the main reasons we respond differently to difficult situations is our individual level of resiliency.
Resiliency is “the ability to have the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship. It’s the mental reservoir of strength that resilient people call up when they’re dealing with something tough to carry them through without falling apart.”
That “something tough” may be a trauma, tragedy, multiple sources of stress like relationship problems, serious health problems, job pressures or financial losses. Resilience involves “bouncing back” from difficult experiences, and it can also provide us opportunities for expansive personal growth.
When we talk about resilient people, those are folks who seem to handle adversity better than most. They seem to be tough in any situation, including gut-wrenching ones like getting a serious health diagnosis to suddenly losing their job to losing a loved one.
Resiliency is not an inborn trait available only to a few. We’re all capable of being resilient and learning how to build our resiliency muscles. Here are 5 strategies you can use right now to strengthen your ability to be more resilient:
1. Choose to Intentionally Shift Your Attitude and Behavior When Stressed. How you respond to stressors is the most powerful choice you can make to increase your level of resiliency. Despite whatever it is you’re dealing with, you always have a choice in how you respond to it.
Linda Graham, author of Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty and Even Disaster, writes in her book:
“The key to coping in a situation is how we shift our perceptions (our attitude) and our response (our behaviors). It may seem that there’s no end to external stressors, or to negative internal messages about how we’re coping with them. That’s why creating a shift in perception (attitude) and in our responses to those stressors and those messages (behaviors) may be the most effective choice we can make to strengthen our resilience. You can experience the power of shifting your attitude and behavior by refocusing your attention from what just happened to how you are coping with what just happened.”
Linda shares this example in her book:
“The doctor wants to run more tests. Not such good news. This is really really hard. (that’s the “what just happened” part) “Well, better to know, better to get information I need to deal with this head on.” (that’s the “how you are coping with what just happened part”)
“The big lesson of this practice is that if we can shift our attitude and behavior in these circumstances, we can shift them in any circumstances. Knowing this IS the big shift.”
Linda also says, “it’s like moving from poor me to an empowered I…a shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and being open to learning.”
2. Accept that Life is a Series of Peaks and Valleys. Our lives are a combination of good and bad times, setbacks and beautiful moments. Remaining hopeful helps us recover from adversity (the deepest, scariest valleys we can experience), so much faster. When you’re at a peak, enjoy the heck out of it, because it will be normal to experience a valley sometime in the future and vice versa.
3. Integrate A Stress Reduction Ritual into Your Daily Routine. When your levels of uncertainty are high, you have more stress and can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. This heightened level of anxiety affects you even when you’re not thinking about your stressors. Too much stress impacts everything, from your blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, quality of sleep, ability to keep your emotions in check, focus, solve problems, remember things, and more.
Schedule one stress reduction ritual into your calendar today and make it non-negotiable. Start small and you’ll feel better right away. For example, take a yoga class, journal your worries onto paper, meditate for 5 minutes using a free phone app or take a walk outside.
Stress does not go melt away or disappear. It accumulates and contributes to us feeling less resilient in life. To stop the buildup of stress, take action every day to alleviate it.
4. Live in the Moments of Your Life. Being mindful and fully present in the moments of your life without judging them allows you to temporarily escape from adversity and conserve your energy. Instead of focusing on the past, which can cause depression, or worrying about the future, which can cause anxiety, just focus on being fully present in the moment you’re living right now. Whatever it is you’re engaging in, be there versus distracted by thoughts about the past or the future.
5. Practice Gratitude Every Day. When you focus on the positive, wonderful things you have in your life, it diminishes the negative ones that try to dominate your attention. Every morning and evening identify 3 things you’re grateful for in your life. This exercise will help balance your perspective and remind you that all is not doom and gloom, even when you feel your least resilient. There is always much to be grateful for which can fuel your decision to choose to be resilient instead of succumbing to fear, frustration or overwhelm.
These 5 strategies will help you begin to strengthen your ability to be more resilient; however, if you feel like you’re stuck and need more support to make progress, consider speaking with a mental health professional.
I specialize in helping high achievers become extraordinary leaders, while being fully present and able to enjoy their lives. Part of that transformational process includes developing a higher level of resiliency.
If you’d like to know more about how I help leaders achieve higher levels of success, connect with me by clicking here. Together, we can figure out if I can help you in your leadership journey.
Jennell Evans, MA, CMMI
Leadership | Emotional Intelligence | Mindfulness
Advisor & Speaker