Resilience is a quality that allows some people to be knocked down by hard times in life and then come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure and catastrophe overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to become the phoenix and rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient. Among those are a positive outlook, a tendency toward optimism, the skill to self-regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as feedback. Even after a daunting situation, those who have resilient attributes, are able to shift their thinking and take action toward recovery.
We human beings have an innate desire to make order and sense out of chaos such as has been recently experienced with Superstorm Sandy, but many of us may find it difficult to do this this effectively. The process of moving through challenging life events and coming through those events stronger, wiser, healthier and more resilient is definitely work worth doing.
Building resilience can be a tough process. Here are a few tips for strengthening your resilience to difficult times in life:
- Maintain or develop good relationships with your family and friends, and accept their help during times of stress. Get involved in community groups or faith-based organizations which may help give you social support.
- Step back and look at the big picture of life, and avoid viewing difficult times as impossible. Take small steps toward your goals and take just one day at a time.
- Understand that change and loss are an inevitable part of life and come to terms with circumstances that you can’t control.
- Keep working toward your goals every day, and ask yourself "What can I do today to move toward my goal?"
- Keep a positive view of yourself and your problem solving abilities.
- Maintain a positive view of life and visualize what you want.
- Notice how you have changed after a tragedy or crisis. Many people report having more confidence in themselves after a crisis and some even have a deeper appreciation for life. Get what you can out of these tough times.
- Take care of yourself! Get enough nourishment, sleep, and exercise to keep yourself healthy. This is especially important during times of excess stress.
- Seek professional help when the situation is too hard for you to handle on your own. A helping professional, can help you to develop a strategy for moving your life forward.
Most of us go about our day with the belief that we will be relatively safe. However, catastrophic storms like Sandy with powerful winds, and an extraordinarily high storm surge, has shaken that belief for many people. This natural disaster has taken lives, destroyed property, altered the lives of millions, and for very many people across our region, undermined feelings of safety.
Storm survivors will process their experience in their own way and with their own personal timeline, and out of the chaos, eventually order will be restored, and rebuilding will be done even for people who are learning to be more resilient.
“It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, even by death, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula