Cultivating your emotional resilience

Better minds better living with Dr. Yansie Rolston Monday, September 11 2017

WE have all dealt with difficult situations at one time or another which have tested our emotional resilience to breaking point. So developing an ability to recover and bounce back when faced with challenges can only be a good thing.

We all know that managing stress is not always easy – it can be very challenging at times, but your quality of life can be enhanced by generating positive emotional responses instead of giving in to the negative feelings when faced with difficulties.

Mind you, I am not for one minute suggesting that this is easy to achieve because even the best of us have times when we succumb to anger or anxiety. Some days it is the slightest things, such as the discourteous driver who cuts in front of your car, or the uncouth work colleague’s inappropriate behaviour.

However, in cultivating emotional resilience, you are building a suit of armour and defence system to help you to cope with life’s up and downs. It is not about alleviating all stress or eliminating the difficulties that are part and parcel of everyday life, or even trying to face them with a stiff upper lip, instead it’s about regulating your responses and having the resolve to deal with the issues and problems that are posing to be challenging.

There are myriad of factors that can cause emotional frailty such as workplace stress, relationship difficulties, physical illnesses etc, but it helps to be able to bend but not break when they come at you like a gale force wind, and then being able to straighten up afterwards.

There are steps that can be taken to cultivate personal resilience, and one of the most important is developing self-awareness of your body and its reactions. Know when you are vulnerable, and when your emotional and mental health is being compromised.

It also helps if you soul search for your triggers, in other words identify the situations and experi- ences that cause increased anxiety, and start to challenge the ways in which you think and react to those situations. Because being self-aware means that you are able to take remedial action as soon as possible.

As time passes, it is also important to figure out what works for you, and what is not helpful – bearing in mind that what may work for others may not necessarily work for you or vice versa.

An article written by Eric Barker on evidence-based ways to boost emotional resilience suggests the following: Be Optimistic Look on the bright side of the things that keeps you going.

Face Your Fears Face fears head on – fears that are faced are less frightening.

Have A Moral Compass Develop a strong sense of right and wrong even when in unfortunate situations.

Practice spirituality Much of the strength from religious activity comes from being a part of a community. Therefore, you don’t have to do anything you don’t believe in, but being part of a group strengthens your resolve.

Get Social Support Friends, family and loved ones can be key when life gets hard. Having that special ride or die friend often goes a long way Have Resilient Role Models It’s good to have a role model who can show positive examples and provide support Maintain Physical Fitness During vigorous aerobic exercise, the “anxiety-sensitive” person is forced to tolerate many of the same symptoms (that is, rapid heart rate, sweating, and rapid breathing) that frighten him or her during periods of anxiety.

Keep Your Brain Strong Resilient people are very often lifelong learners. They keep growing their mind, willing to learn, and adapting to new information about the world.

Be ‘Cognitively Flexible’ Be flexible in the way you think about challenges and flexible in the way they react emotionally to stress.

Find Meaning In What You Do Resilient people don’t have jobs — they have callings. They have a mission and purpose in life that gives meaning to the things they do. So, when times are hard, they feel a greater purpose is behind them, pushing them forward.

Remember, you do not always have control of what happens in your life, but you can choose how you respond.

Dr Yansie Rolston FRSA is a UK based disability and mental health specialist advisor. She is a social strategist and trainer who works internationally at various levels of government, business and civil society.

Contact her at yr@efficacyeva.com

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