Nobody is immune from the issues associated with hardship but what people apart from the rest is their ability to manage, adapt and ultimately bounce back when life throws curve balls.
The key to surviving these ups and downs is to develop adequate emotional coping skills as well as build supportive and reciprocal relationships with people you can lean on during these hard times. Through hardship we can find new meaning and strengths, the very idea of resilience does not provide immunity from harm but buffers the impact of stress and allows us to recover more quickly.
Whether it means recovering from the death of a loved one, surviving an accident or an unexpected and unwelcome turn in life like losing a job or a bout of ill health, you can discover how to flourish even when times get tough.
1. Inspire resilience
In this age of social media, many things do appear to happen at once – success, love, money, etc but obviously, in reality, they rarely are.
However, if we believe that this is the case, it can be very difficult to endure life's frustrations or negative feelings and setbacks.
It can be helpful then to look out for role models, like Michelle Obama who has spoken openly about her struggles and how it has taken time for her to develop a resilient mindset.
2. Try this simple exercise
During times of difficulty, our mind can marinate on past regrets, dwell negatively on the future and constantly compare our situation to others.
Rather than following that exhausting narrative, try this simple exercise:
- Relax and become fully aware of your breathing
- Focus on the sensations of the breath entering and leaving your body
- When you notice your attention has drifted to something else, simply guide it back to the sensations of breathing.
This exercise has been shown empirically to reduce negative emotional responses to adverse circumstances by 20 percent and become more resilient in the process.
3. Be kinder to others
Nothing makes you feel more confident than doing a few good deeds to help others in need.
By doing even simple things like helping an elderly person with their groceries, giving someone a lift to somewhere, etc. we're in a better position to see the bigger picture in life by thinking about those who are more vulnerable.
4. Don't lose yourself
If you are feeling overwhelmed by events and/or life in general it can be easy to neglect your own needs by not sleeping fitfully, not having the motivation to exercise or eat properly are often common reactions to a crisis (as are other unhealthy responses like drinking and smoking.
By being physically fit you help boost your overall health and are better prepared to meet life's challenges head on so try to keep exercising even if you can only manage a brisk walk.
5. Eat right, feel right
Eating a healthy varied diet should go a long way to giving your body the support it needs to see you through adversity.
If you skip meals because you are too worked up to eat or are surviving on processed and sugary food, this will play havoc with blood sugar levels and is more likely to make you feel jittery therefore making your ability to cope a lot harder.
6. Be your own cheerleader
List 10 of your unique qualities. Resilience is also about celebrating the wonderful bits of you. This may feel a little strange initially but just start with a couple of things and if you get stuck, ask others what they think your best qualities are.
Remind yourself how you have used these qualities to get yourself through the tough times in the past and know that you can get through it again.
7. Build resilient relationships
The human brain adapts and changes during the teenage years more than at any other time, aside from the first three years of life. The skills, knowledge and relationships that young people develop during this stage are crucial.
Studies have shown that kids flourish when they have at least one stable, committed relationship with a parent, caregiver or adult. If you're a parent, truly connecting and listening to your child without distractions can strengthen your relationship.
Whatever your age, having a caring, supportive network around you is key to helping you through trying times.