I haven't introduced my wife (Jan) on this, she's an EAP in private practice and working for Washington State. That's important to this post because some of her work seems especially timely. What an EAP is, in very general terms, is a mental health professional that specializes in work related issues and how to help people be the most effective they can be at work. The economy that is making it difficult to find work is also making work more difficult, and she is doing quite a bit of work helping people deal with that. One of the articles she's written in this focus is titled:
Do you bounce back? What happens when something goes wrong? Do you collapse? Do you hide? Do you find a way to deal with it? Resilient people find a way to deal with it. They find a way to work through problems, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job, illness or any of the many other challenges that life confronts us all with. Resilience doesn’t make the problems go away, it is simply the ability to work through them and find the things in life that help us handle the next stressor. If you aren't as resilient as you'd like, you can teach yourself.
§ Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress, such as family and relationship problems, health problems, workplace stress, and financial stress. Resilience is “bouncing back” from difficult experiences. It is a skill, something that can be learned.
§ Being resilient does not exempt someone from problems and challenges, it simply is the skills necessary to continue through them and to minimize the amount of time they take out of life.
§ Resilience isn’t about “toughing it out” or living by clichés such as “making lemonade out of lemons.” It is not ignoring your feelings of sadness over a loss. It does not mean that you always have to be strong and can’t ask others for support. In fact, reaching out to others is a key component of developing resilience.
§ Resilience is not a “trait” that people either have or don’t have; it’s a “skill”. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Factors that promote Resilience
§ Connectedness; Caring and supportive relationships inside and outside of the family. Relationships that include love and trust, and that provide role models, offer encouragement and reassurance thus bolstering one’s confidence and resilience.
§ Planfulness; The ability to make realistic plans and act to carry them out.
§ Self-confidence; positive view of yourself and belief in your strengths and abilities.
§ Skills in communication and problem solving.
§ The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.
Become more Resilient
§ Get connected. Build strong, positive relationships with family and friends, who can listen to your concerns and offer support. Share with these people. Being connected means that you share with your friends and they share with you. When things are tough, your friends and family help, if you are connected. Get involved in civic groups, faith groups or volunteer organizations that give you an opportunity to help others. Relationships like these can also fulfill your need for a sense of belonging and help banish loneliness. "A sense of connectedness can sustain you in more difficult times.
§ Use humor and laughter. Remaining positive or finding humor in distressing or stressful situations doesn't mean you're in denial. Humor is a helpful coping mechanism. If you simply can't find humor in your situation, turn to other sources for a laugh, such as a funny book or movie.
§ Learn from your experiences. Recall how you've coped with hardships in the past, What worked? What didn’t? Build on what helped you through those rough times and don't repeat actions that didn't help. Figure out what lessons you learned and how you'll apply them when faced with similar situations.
§ Remain hopeful and optimistic. When you're in the middle of a crisis, use the resources (your friends and family, your humor, your strengths) to remain hopeful and optimistic. It will allow you to remember what’s working. It may seem as though things will never get better and while you can't change the events, look toward the future, even if it's just a glimmer of how things might improve. Find something in each day that is working. Find something each day that signals a change for the better. Expect good results. Believing things happen for a reason may help sustain you.
§ Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally. This includes participating in activities and hobbies you enjoy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet.
§ Accept and anticipate change. Be flexible. Change and uncertainty are part of life. Try not to be so rigid that even minor changes upset you or that you become anxious in the face of uncertainty. Expecting changes to occur makes it easier to adapt to them, tolerate them, and even welcome them.
§ Work toward goals. Do something every day that gives you a sense of accomplishment. It doesn't have to be a major goal, such as getting the college degree you've been meaning to pursue. Even small, everyday goals are important, such as finishing a work project or making a difficult phone call. Having goals helps direct you toward the future. Accomplishing them builds your self confidence and feeds your optimism.
§ Take action. Don't just wish your problems would go away or try to ignore them. Chances are, they won't disappear on their own. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan to do it, and then take action to resolve your problems.
§ Learn new things about yourself. Look back on past experiences and think about how you've changed as a result. You may be stronger than you thought. You may have gained a new appreciation for life. If you feel worse as a result of your experiences, think about what changes could help. Also explore new interests, such as taking a cooking class or visiting a museum.
§ Nurture your strengths. Identify and congratulate yourself for your real successes, no matter how small. Be proud of yourself and your success. Trust yourself to solve problems and make sound decisions. Think positive thoughts about yourself. Nurture your self-confidence and self-esteem so that you feel you're a strong, capable and self-reliant person who can withstand hardships and criticism.
§ Maintain perspective. Look at your life. Recognize that you have had better times, and worse. Recognize that you made it through the worse times before and you will make it through this. Comparing yourself to others is self defeating. There are always good things in the world and always bad things. There is always someone doing better than you and someone else that is having more problems. Comparing your events with others in the world doesn’t change what happened, it simply allows you to reinforce whatever you choose. If you want to feel poor, then compare yourself with Bill Gates, if you want to feel rich, then head off to Africa and find someplace that doesn’t have drinkable water. Both are meaningless. Your situation is what you must deal with and that’s enough.
Becoming resilient is something each of us learns in our own way. These tips provide simple tools, or really just the pointers to tools that can help you become more resilient..