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 a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Yet people generally do adapt, over time, to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enables them to do so involves resilience which is an ongoing process that requires time and effort
Resilience is described as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences.
Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary; and being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when people suffer major adversity or trauma in their lives.
Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Here are Ten ideas for building Resilience…
- Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in community or local groups can provide social support and help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
- 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.
- 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.
- Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
- Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
- 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.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualising what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
- Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. 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.
For additional ways of strengthening resilience – some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life, while 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 building resilience.
And some final words from Dr Tim Sharp of The Happiness Institute who reminds us that:
“Individuals gain more when they build on their talents, than when they make comparable efforts to improve their areas of weakness”
If your feelings or behaviours have been impacting your access to HIV care and treatment, QPP Program Staff would be happy to talk further with you about assistance to access mental health or other support needs.