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How can I build resilience to stress?

Everyone faces trials and tribulations in their everyday life. There are those events or situations that may be small and seemingly insignificant, but that still require us to contend with and take care of. Then there are those highly stressful events that demand that we take action and make major adjustments in how we life our life. These stressors can range from serious illness, financial blows, or other unexpected traumas such as natural disasters, the loss of a loved one, or being a victim in an unexpected tragic situation.

The term "resilience" has been coined to refer to those qualities and skills that allow a person to effectively deal with all the stressful situations that life may bring one's way. And it is not just coping ability that makes on resilient. Just as important is the ability to bounce back from adversity and disappointments, as well as knowing when to ask for help and where to find those resources.

Perhaps one of the most encouraging things about resilience is that one can learn and develop those skills. Resilience is truly a process - a lifelong learning process - that continually allows us to not necessarily avoid problems or stressful situations, but to effectively handle them.

How does a person build there resilient qualities? The American Psychological Association has compiled a list of ways to accomplish this:

  • Make connections. Encourage and nurture good relationships with family and friends. Know who, where, and how to ask for help. Keep yourself involved. Help others. Be a mentor.
  • Don't see crises as insurmountable problems. There is much to be gained from how you interpret what happens in your life; how you perceive may alter how you respond to these challenges.
  • Accept that change is part of living. Always focus on what can be changed, and what is in your control, rather than bemoan what you can't or may not have power over.
  • Move toward your goals. Keep your goals realistic and attainable. Work at them, make necessary adjustments, and don't let difficulty persuade you to give up.
  • Take decisive action. Take direct action when you can. Don't withdraw; don't put your head in the sand. Ask for help when you feel you can't do it alone.
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Once again, it's about how you interpret what has happened in your life. See challenges and crises as chances to learn about yourself, and about your abilities. Knowing that you have dealt with crises in the past lets you know that you have grown and changed regardless of what roadblocks and hardships you have encountered.
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself. Give yourself a break. Everyone faces stress, and everyone struggles with difficult situations. Having hardships and stressful times can work to build confidence in yourself and in your ability to manage life. Even when tings have not worked out well, we always learn for the next time.
  • Keep things in perspective. Don't magnify the negative impact of difficulties, no matter how stressful. Keep your perspective. Know what you have accomplished, and know who and what resources are there for you.
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook. Don't ever lose sight of a better future. Optimism is not ignoring misfortune or difficulty. True optimism is about a positive outlook, and hopefulness. It is about finding ways to continually learn and grow, and to appreciate who we are, despite all we have been faced with.
  • Take care of yourself. Find ways to nurture yourself physically, psychologically and spiritually. Not only will you feel better daily as a result, but you will also be better prepared to successfully manage the next stress that comes along in life's journey.