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Holding up, bouncing back
The Road to Resilience
How do people deal with difficult events that change their lives? The death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness and other traumatic events are all examples of very challenging life experiences. Many people react to such circumstances with strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty.
Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enables them to do so? It involves resilience.
What Is Resilience?
10 Ways to Build Resilience
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
Move toward your goals. Do something regularly -- even if it seems like a small accomplishment -- that enables you to move toward your goals.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Take care of yourself. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.
The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.
American Psychological Association. (2004). The Road to Resilience. (c) 2004 by the American Psychological Association, adapted with permission.
Page updated September 1, 2009