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Building resilience and adapting to change

By The Health News Team | June 15, 2020
Active woman cutting fruit for smoothie

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health issues, financial stressors and even the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone is bound to have some stressors, traumatic events and crises throughout their life, such as a serious illness, death of a loved one or a life-altering accident,” says Michelle Myking-Scheufler, a therapist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center. “How resilient we are will determine how well we are able to bounce back from these difficulties, and it is through these setbacks that we can grow as human beings. It is usually through pain and discomfort that we grow the most. Being able to adapt to life-altering stress and change over time is our resiliency.”

Building resilience provides a sense of empowerment in difficult or uncertain times, and lets people know they are not helpless. Myking-Scheufler offers strategies for building resiliency and adapting to change.

Foster connections with others
It is important to know you are not alone when you are experiencing difficulties. Talk with someone you trust about how you feel and what you are going through. Connect with compassionate and trustworthy people who care about you.

Along with individual relationships, think about joining a support group such as a church group, meditation group, charity organization, civic organization or self-help group to cultivate new relationships. Most offer virtual meeting opportunities. It has been said that the happiest and most emotionally healthy people have six different social groups.

Prioritize physical and mental wellness
Take care of your body by fueling it with healthy food and balanced meals, good sleep hygiene, and regular exercise. This will help greatly when dealing with stress and mood.

Develop a mindfulness routine by meditating, praying, journaling or practicing yoga. Mindfulness helps with an overall sense of well-being and centeredness.

Avoid unhealthy outlets for stress such as drugs and alcohol, which only put a bandage on a problem and can often cause you to feel worse by depleting emotional resources and having the reverse effect.

Examine your thoughts. By developing more realistic and heathier ways of thinking, we can help ourselves a great deal in stressful times. Negative or inaccurate thoughts about others, the future or ourselves can produce unhelpful emotions and behaviors. Increase your awareness of how you interpret events so you can challenge and alter counterproductive thoughts and develop a more adaptive thinking style. If you find yourself feeling anxious and worried, set a time limit for the amount you spend worrying about things. This cuts down on a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the day, which is counterproductive.

Build resilience to help manage adversity
While we cannot avoid adversity altogether, resiliency protects us when adversity arises, allowing us to bounce back knowing we will and can get through most things. Developing our resiliency skills will enable us to trust everything will work out, and that what has happened is not an indicator of how the rest of one’s life is going to go.

Be clear on what you can and cannot control. Worry often centers on things that are outside of your control. Make a list of the things that are within your control and refer to that list when you are feeling worried.

Most of life, including the pandemic, is outside our control. We only have control over ourselves. To quote Charles Swindoll: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.”

You may not be able to change a highly stressful event, but you can change how you interpret and respond to it. Remember, this too shall pass and we will get through this.

Learn more about how to build resilience, adapt to change and cope with life's many challenges in a free online workshop.

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