by Christine Sine,
What makes it possible for some of us to thrive while others succumb to the pressure? How come some of us bounce back with resilience when others become withdrawn and isolated?
Sustaining life when the going gets tough is often a challenge, and when we think about the daunting problems of the world in which we live it is not wonder that some of us get disheartened. However there are ways to build resilience that all of us can benefit from. I talked about this at the beginning of the year, but since then have done quite a bit of research and wanted to share it with you. Here are some tips for how to increase our resilience.
- Take stress breaks. The key to resilience is to try hard in small bursts then take a break. Try really hard, then stop, recover, and try again. After a stressful life event – loss of a job, or a loved one, involvement in a natural disaster like a hurricane, or just the completion of a demanding work project, we need to take time for our bodies, spirits and souls to recover. Trying hard burns energy. Stop for free time during the day or week – pausing to pray, for breathing exercises, planned relaxation and recovery activities all help. Taking time for retreat, refocus and renewal can transform all of us into super resilient people.
- Rewrite our story or the story of the stressful event so that struggles become growth opportunities. See stress as a way to fuel better performance. When I did research on plastic and its horrible impact on the environment, I was initially depressed. But when I prayerfully considered the challenge and viewed this as an opportunity to learn and change my behaviour, my attitude changed and I bounced back. In a natural disaster focusing on the incredible response of caring people across the nation and sometimes around the world can dramatically increase resilience.
- Practice Optimism. Thinking positive thoughts and surrounding yourself with positive people really does help. When we replace “I don’t think I will ever get over this.” with “This was challenging but I have learnt a lot” we transform defeat into resilient success.
- Help others and express gratitude. Studies show that people are more resilient when they have strong support networks of friends and family to help them cope with a crisis. You get an even bigger resilience boost by giving support. When we reach out and help others, we create meaning and purpose that helps push us through adversity. No wonder Paul tells us to “consider the needs of others as more important than our own (Philippians 2:4)
- Make it into a game. Make mundane tasks in the midst of painful experiences into a game with stakes, challenges and rewards. Celebrate and take joy in small wins. This doesn’t mean we belittle the magnitude of a crisis but it does often lighten our mood and that of those around us.
- Remember your comebacks. There is something incredibly inspiring about recounting the challenges we have already faced and overcome. Sharing these stories with others can build resilience not only in us but in them as well. No wonder God told the Israelites to remember and recount their story of escape from slavery, endurance in the desert and entry into the promised land. They were a resilient people who overcame incredible obstacles time and time again.
- Increase physical activity. Going for a long walk boosts our happiness and our resilience.It also raises our spirits and brings joy to our souls. No wonder people often feel close to God when walking through a forest or on the beach.
- Push yourself outside your comfort zones. Taking on new challenges and keeping your brain fresh, sharp and inquisitive makes us flexible and resilient, more open to new ideas and the optimistic outlook that we need to keep us going.
What Is Your Response
Prayerfully consider your own approach to life. What could you do to increase your resilience and ability to bounce back when you face challenges and obstacles?