Tuesday 20 August 2019

10 ways to build resilience and learn to copy with challenges


'Developing resilience is a personal process'
'Developing resilience is a personal process'
Dr Sinead Kane

Dr Sinead Kane

Like many people, I can drift into patterns, on a daily basis, of negative thinking. It is much easier to have a negative mind-set then a positive one because being negative doesn't take much effort. I do a lot of running and anytime I prepare for my next goal, the thought always comes into my mind: "It can't be done". I would look into the future and predict a negative outcome: "I'll never be able to improve my performance."

Many of you might be familiar with black-and-white-type thinking; this is where we view the world in an either/or way, with little scope for grey areas: "If I don't perform now, I'll never get another chance." Its where we view failures as a reflection of our own shortcomings: "They said that I could have performed better. I'm useless."

It's important to understand the way we think because this will affect our mind-set and how resilient we are in times of setbacks.

There are things you can control in life but there are also things you can't. What I have learnt from life is that developing resilience is a personal process. Each of us reacts differently to stress and to trauma. Some people bounce back quickly while others tend to take longer. There is no magic formula.

Dr Sinead Kane
Dr Sinead Kane

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to thrive in the face of adversity. The concept developed from research that was carried out on 'at risk' children. It was observed that some children grew to become successful adults, while others were never able to escape from a background of dysfunction. The circumstances of childhood have an influence on resilience in adult years.

What affects resilience?

Although psychological resilience manifests within ourselves, it can be influenced by a wide range of environmental factors. Such factors may originate from social, cultural, organisational, political, economic, occupational and/or technological sources. Thus, we must consider the broader environment within which individuals operate. People who have low resilience may feel depressed, victimised, demoralised, hopeless, disconnected, tired or fatigued, stressed out, or find it difficult to continue.

Coping Strategies

Personality traits, attributions, and coping abilities all play a part in adaptation. Problem-focused coping is characterised by efforts to stop the harm or threat from occurring. Emotion-focused coping places its emphasis on interpretation of the situation.

The way each of us will react to a situation and how quickly we: 'bounce back' will depend on our mind-set but also what has occurred. In being resilient, the first step you could take is write out or talk about the trauma without magnifying it. For example, you might say to yourself, "I injured myself. However, I was able to call for help."

Reframe the situation. Look for the silver lining. Things could have been worse. You could have been seriously injured or hurt someone else. Reframing involves looking for the bright side of the situation and finding something to be grateful for in the situation. Engaging in this simple process can go a long way to helping you feel more resilient.

Learning coping strategies:

⬤ I ask myself questions: what are some of the bad habits you engage in when feeling stressed?

⬤ I focus on making changes: What kind of small changes can you invest in to improve your health? (Better sleep, better nutrition, hydration, exercise, etc.). List one small change you can make now.

⬤ I identify my strengths: Describe a time when you were able to overcome or handle a major challenge in life. What did you learn about yourself? What personal strengths did you draw upon? Draw upon an image of when you were the most resilient. How might you apply this strength now?

⬤ If you are being hard on yourself, practice self-compassion and learn to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a mental break or a pat on the back. Remember a hero, a coach or a mentor that encouraged you.

⬤ Develop a self-care plan that involves positive self-talk, and make time for solitude. Taking time to meditate and to repeat positive suggestions can go a long way to helping you feel more balanced.

Sightsavers are calling on businesses to fundraise to restore the sight of the world's poorest on June 21. See sightsavers.ie/bright or email bright@sightsavers.ie

Irish Independent

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