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Tips on How to Adapt Well to Stress, Adversity, Trauma & Tragedy

by Michael Coughlin |

Resilience is the ability to adapt well to stress, adversity, trauma, or tragedy. It is the ability to remain stable and maintain healthy levels of psychological and physical functioning in the face of disruption or chaos.

Resilient people harness inner strengths and rebound more quickly from a setback or challenge. In contrast, people who are less resilient may dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Resilience will not necessarily make problems go away but it may give one the ability to see past them, find some enjoyment in life, and handle future stressors more effectively.

Resilience is not a trait that an individual does or does not possess. Instead, there are varying degrees of how well a person is able to handle stress. Although some individuals are more resilient than others, resilience can be learned and developed with a little effort. The following steps can help build resiliency:

1. Develop a positive attitude. When life becomes challenging, it is important to develop positive self-talk. This means saying things such as "you are strong" or "you can grow stronger and wiser while handling life's challenges."

2. Strengthen emotional awareness. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by their emotions, which immobilizes and/or frightens them. Knowing why one feels upset can provide valuable information about what needs to change. Maintaining a journal can be helpful in this process. Do research on how to meet the specific challenges being faced.

3. Develop an internal locus of control. An individual with an internal locus of control believes that they, rather than outside forces, are in control of their own lives. Although life’s circumstances cannot always be controlled, how one responds to these circumstances can be controlled.

4. Garner social support. People with strong networks of social support tend to stay happier and healthier throughout life and tend to handle stress better. Supportive and positive friends and family can help lighten the load when a challenge is faced.

5. Cultivate optimism. More than just looking at the bright side of life, optimism means maximizing strengths and accomplishments while minimizing setbacks and weaknesses.

6. Do not give up. As is the case with diets, the most successful outcome occurs when individuals focus on long-term change. Do not give up on a difficult situation; instead, keep working towards getting through it.

 

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