Everyone will experience twists and turns in their life. From everyday challenges to traumatic events with longer impact, like death of a close person, an accident that may alter your life or serious illness. Every change affects people in different ways. It brings unique thoughts, emotions and uncertainty. Yet people generally adapt well to life-changing situations, in part thanks to resilience.
You would say “Ok Maja, but resilience is a personality trait that only some people possess”. Well, on the contrary, resilience involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that anyone can learn and develop. It’s like building a muscle, it takes time and intentionality. If you focus on the connection (build your support network), wellness (look after your physical and mental health), healthy thinking (keep perspective and accept change), and meaning (finding purposes) you will see, not only that it will become easier to ‘bounce back’ from difficult experiences but it will bring profound personal growth.
Connections. Find people that are empathic and understanding. Try not to isolate yourself. Chatting with friends or loved ones about things you find difficult can help you keep things in perspective and it can validate your feelings. You can as well join a support group or community.
Wellness. Take care of your body. Stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. A positive lifestyle that includes regular exercise, nutritious food, good sleep and hydration can help you adapt to stress and reduce anxiety and depression. Practising mindfulness will help you stay in the moment and feel grateful and hopeful. Focus on giving your body resources to manage stress. It might be yoga, meditation, mindful journaling or spiritual practice.
Healthy thinking. When you feel overwhelmed by a challenge or stressful situation, remind yourself that it will pass and it’s not an indicator of how your future will go or look like. As well, learn from the past. Remember where you have been and what you have overcome.
Meaning. By helping others (volunteer with a local homeless shelter or food bank or support a friend) you nurture sense of purpose and your self-worth. Try to acknowledge and accept your emotions. Be curious about yourself. People often find that they have grown in some respect as a result of struggle.
But remember, you are not alone on the journey of life. You may not be able to control the circumstances, but you can grow by focusing on the challenges that you can manage. You can do it with the support of your loved ones, a trusted professional or by using a set of tools.
I created a list of things to do for 7 days. It helped me to discover myself again, stay optimistic and to understand that there is a lesson to be learnt in every experience that we have.
- Meditate; if it is difficult in the beginning, try to use apps that have guided meditations on them (Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm). Remember that meditation is about observing your thoughts, not giving them up completely.
- Give yourself a new experience and try something new. It doesn’t have to be a massive thing like bungy jumping, it could just be as small as trying a new ice cream flavour.
- Do something that brings you joy, and you have forgotten about. Be childlike. Dance. Colour. Play games. Whatever works for you.
- Make a playlist of songs that lift your spirit up and listen to them every day.
- Write a list of things that you are grateful for. However small or big they are for you.
- Spend a day in nature and write in a journal how it made you feel. (Connect with mother earth, hug a tree if you like).
- Reflect on the day and make a list of the things that made you most happy.
Connect with yourself, repeat the things that made you feel alive and add new ones. You’ve got this!