Does this seem familiar: You are moving smoothly through life with few worries. Things look good for the foreseeable future. But, you hit a bump, and then another. Or you slam into hardship that could change everything—an automobile accident, a fragmenting relationship, a personal health crisis or illness of a close loved one, financial troubles.
How do you respond?
Picking up the pieces is difficult for most everyone. Yet, some people are better able to cope with everyday stress, difficulty, and loss— some even thrive in the wake of trauma or significant hardship. Our ability to handle adversity and stress — whether we “bounce back” and adapt, or fall apart — is, in large part, determined by our resilience.
Resilience allows us to “bend” and adapt in new or stressful situations, to adjust to loss over time, and to perceive that life can be good.
Resilience cannot shield us from stress, loss, grief, or hardship. But it can strengthen our ability to deal with life’s challenges and reinforce our capacity to recover.
Practicing resilience is not avoiding stress or adversity, but learning how to respond positively and move forward. Habits of mind, body, and spirit can promote resilience. We can invest in our own health by learning and utilizing resilience-building thoughts, behaviors, and actions. When we practice, we can change our minds—literally rewire our brains and shift our neurochemistry—and in so doing, change our lives.
In his Harvard Grant Study “Aging Well,” George E. Vaillant found that individual choices in how we live our lives play a greater role in promoting resilience than genetics, wealth, race, or other factors. Practicing gratitude is one of those choices that has lasting benefits. Try one of the following each day for a week and make an investment in your resilience.
- Start a gratitude journal: Record at least one thing you are grateful for every day for a month. You’ll find that this can help change your outlook and increase your appreciation for different pieces of your life.
- Write a letter of gratitude: Send a note to someone who adds meaning, happiness, and value to your life. Your letter of appreciation can strengthen your bond with the recipient and shine light on all the people who help support you.
- Volunteer: Volunteering and helping those in need allow us to realize how much we have, practice appreciation and gratefulness, and practice the act of giving
Stacking the Odds for Wellness
Your Guide to Building Resilience
Interested in more tips, tools and practices for enhancing resilience? Our multi-part course offers a practical, interactive guide. Watch a preview now:
This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions about personal healthcare status and prior to making changes in approaches to diet and exercise. This material is not a guarantee of coverage under any Episcopal Church Medical Trust health plan.