6 Ways to Be More Resilient During Tough TimesNone By Jennifer Abbasi
Examples of resiliency are all around us. Athletes who lost limbs but went on to compete again. Survivors of 9/11 who rebuilt from the rubble. Holocaust victims who are living out long, fulfilling lives. Look to your own community for inspiration. You likely know someone who once dealt with something terrible but has found joy again. In fact, researchers have found that resilience in the face of adversity is more common than uncommon.
So, what does it mean to be resilient? "Resilience is a measurement of one's capacity to recover fully from an adversity," says Charles Figley, PhD, director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute in New Orleans, where he studies traumatic stress resilience. "It's like pressing a balloon tightly and examining how completely the balloon assumes its original position." Psychologists say that resilience can be learned—it's not something we either have or don't have. So if times are tough right now, you can take steps to strengthen your resilience. Even if you're not struggling at the moment, adopting these habits now can help you down the road when life throws you a curveball.
Expect Things to Get Better
If you fall into a rough patch, you may not feel happy the next day. Or even the next week. But eventually, with time, light will begin to peek back into your life. If you want to work on bouncing back, you must expect that good things will happen, says Phyllis Zilkha, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan. "If you're expecting only bad things to happen, how resilient can you be? Why push on? What's the difference?" Optimism, Zilkha says, is the single biggest factor in recovering from adversity. It's what makes some of us seek out solutions to our troubles instead of pulling the covers over our heads.
Don't Ignore Your Calls and Emails
There's no shortage of reasons why having a support system helps us get through tough times. Friends and loved ones can provide an invaluable distraction from our negative thoughts. When we're feeling isolated, they remind us that we're attached to a group—and that we're important to someone. They can also provide a fresh perspective: "If they're not in the middle of the grief or the difficult period, people outside it can see a broader picture and say, ‘Yes, what's going on now is terrible, but look at this possible positive outcome,'" Zilkha says. "Social support is among the ‘protective factors' that increase our odds of having high resilience when faced with daunting adversity," Figley adds. "It enables processing of the experience to focus on solutions."
Go On a Mind Vacation
Although it's natural for your mind to turn over events in your head, getting a break from