Coping with stress: Are you resilient?

Whether it is a minor set back, or a major moment of crisis, we all endure hardships in our lives. Traumatic events in your personal life or in your professional life can generate enormous amounts of stress, anxiety, fear, and worry. Sometimes it can feel difficult to make it through the day when life feels unstable. Coping during high-stress situations can feel nearly impossible. How are we supposed to weather life’s many storms? How do we get through the tough times?


Resilience is the ability to recover readily from adversity. It is the capacity to bounce back from setbacks or to thrive during times of challenge or change.

Having resilience does not mean that you don’t struggle, make mistakes, or need to ask for help.

Resilient individuals are those who keep plugging along even when the situation becomes ugly or exhausting. Resiliency doesn’t develop when stress is removed from life. It develops when you’re exposed to stress and have adequate time, faith and tools to recover.



ACCEPT YOUR EMOTIONS

During times of stress and trauma, give yourself time to feel your emotions, but then you must let it go! It is okay to take a moment to say out loud that something feels terrible, stressful, hurtful or painful. True freedom will come when you willingly acknowledge it and then release it. If you dwell on the negative for too long you are just replaying your suffering over and over. Staying stuck in a painful moment that may already have passed serves you no purpose. You could potentially be suffering over the memory of your own suffering. Tiffany Guske recommends that you don’t get off on the drama. She says that drama in our lives keeps thing interesting but you need to make sure that drama isn’t a habit or pattern for you when it comes to managing difficulty. Guske says, “If you find yourself getting charged up, talking about the situation over and over again or maybe even wanting a little (or a lot) of revenge, then there is likely an element of drama attached. It’s okay to experience and acknowledge these emotions, but if you’ve got a death grip on them, it’s time to disconnect from your drama.”

Feel for the moment, release, and let it go.

MANAGE YOUR REACTIONS

Stress is anything that challenges the body’s ability to function in its usual fashion and causes heightened feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, excitement, or sadness. The whole body is affected by stress and cannot function properly when challenged. We are biologically wired to automatically move into a fight-or-flight response mode during times of stress and often our first response is fear and panic. Freaking out will always cause you to react. Because you are reacting, you are not thinking clearly which leads to rash decision-making.


The best way to practice resiliency is to manage your reaction and stay calm. When you feel your heart racing, your blood pressure rising, or maybe the urge to cry, take a few deep breaths and pause. Pausing and ground yourself will allow you to evaluate things rationally so you can make a plan and then act. This helps you to handle the pressures with grace and to be gracious with people around you even when you are gritting your teeth and working really hard to overcome a challenge. When you give yourself time to breathe, You will see options you couldn’t see before and new solutions to your problem will emerge.


SHIFT YOUR THINKING:

When you have a shift in attitude you automatically have a shift in response. How do you keep going when you don’t feel like it? Reevaluate the situation. Take time to assess the situation you are in. Look at the good and the bad. You might think there are no advantages but if you truly take your time to assess the situation, you might find some advantages. Resilient people find a way to explain their situations in a more positive light while still accepting reality. This is called realistic optimism. The blog post, Me, Myself, and I talks about Chris Loper’s four stages on the optimism spectrum and that realistic optimism is the sweet spot because it includes an accurate assessment of reality and imagining probable outcomes. We can’t change what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how to respond.

Challenge the story you’re telling yourself when something happens that makes you feel bad. Is there a more hopeful and empowering story you can tell without denying the facts? - TheEnergyProject.com

CIRCLE OF CONTROL VS. WORRY:

When you catch yourself feeling stuck or bogged down in adversity, find one thing you have control over and take action on it. We often spend far too much time worrying about other people and situations that we cannot control. If we resolve to focus rather on what we can control (the way we behave and react to people and situations) then we will find ourselves spending a lot less time trapped in negativity and feeling overwhelmed. Ask yourself this important question; can you do anything about it today, tomorrow, or ever? If not, quit worrying. Worrying never solves a problem. If yes, what can you do and how can you do it to your best ability?


TAKE ACTION:

Resilient people are mentally tough and tend to keep going and going no matter what. Those who are resilient are able to overcome difficult situations and remain cool, calm and collected. They are ready to seek solutions and get back on track. They do not let disappointments deter them from what they want rather they stay focused and plan to be successful. After you have re-evaluated the situation causing you stress and trauma, decide on possible solutions and take action immediately. Don’t postpone or make excuses. If you find it difficult to take action because you still feel down due to the difficult situation, find a partner or a friend that you can talk with. Tell the person the actions you plan to take and commit to reporting on the actions you have taken after a certain period, for example, two weeks or a month. This is called accountability. Until you breathe in deeply and re-evaluate your stressful situation, you won’t be able to see new paths.

Find new ways to adapt to your current situation and you will prevail even if your ability has changed. Reflect on past difficulties and what you gained from them.

Be flexible and don’t stay stuck in the current chosen path. Life may just have opened up another path you didn’t see before.

SUPPORT:

There are other people out there that care about you and what you are struggling with. Adopting a "we're in this together" mindset can help build resiliency. Spend time nurturing important relationships when times are good. This will build the trust and intimacy that will help those relationships stay strong when adversity hits.



FAITH:

Having faith is having complete trust or confidence in someone or something. For this example of faith as a tool for building resiliency, I will focus on a belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Feel free to substitute God with whoever your higher power may be.


What are you carrying today that you are not supposed to? Stress is an indicator light that that is a warning that a part of your life doesn’t have enough faith in it. Do you believe God is with you during times of stress or do you try to navigate it all on your own? It will be easier to navigate the stressful time in your life if you recognize that God is in front of you, behind you, and lays a hand on you to steer you in the right direction.

Let God worry about the outcome.

How are we supposed to weather life’s many storms? Trust God. It may not be our plan, but the storm is God’s plan. You need to open your heart, listen to your mind, and put enough trust in yourself to ride the storm while God teaches you. You are better with God by your side during the storm that you are with yourself and your own plans.


Singer, Carrie Underwood sums it up perfectly in her song “Jesus, Take the Wheel”.

Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hands. 'Cause I can't do this on my own. I'm letting go. So give me one more chance. And save me from this road I'm on. Jesus, take the wheel

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