“Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace amidst the storm.” – Anonymous
How good are you at recovering from an emotional crisis? Is it easier or harder than when you were younger?
I’ve spent a lot of time researching resilience – the ability to bounce back after a setback. Many think this is an innate skill, and you either have it or you don’t. But new research has led scientists to compare resilience to an emotional muscle that can be strengthened at any time.
So it’s never too late to become more resilient.
Many clients come in for counseling during midlife. This period can be packed with stressors and many haven’t developed the coping skills needed to meet these challenges.
If you’re 40 or above the good news is you have an edge over young people when it comes to developing hardiness. By middle age you’ve learned how to regulate your emotions and gained perspective from life experiences.
Ideally we would all build up strength before an emotional crisis hits. But life isn’t always ideal, so here are five active steps you can take during and after an emotional crisis to speed up your recovery:
Strive to be optimistic. Healthy optimism facilitates an active and creative approach to challenging situations. It reduces reactivity to stress by helping you remain calm. Focus your mind on affirmative thoughts and surround yourself with upbeat people and you’ll become more resilient.
Reframe your narrative. Many studies have shown that we benefit from altering how we view the world and ourselves. Question your way of looking at things. Try to look at your story from a fresh point of view. What lessons have you learned? How have challenging times turned out to be an opportunity for growth?
Help yourself by helping others. Altruism releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin and gives us a sense of meaning and purpose which naturally enhances resilience. Think about what gives your life meaning. Are there others that could benefit from what you’ve learned? Could you give back some of the support and gifts you have been given?
Be compassionate to yourself. Don’t ruminate about the past or spend time trying to predict and control the future. Worrying diminishes our vitality and creativity. When you do look back, remember all the times you’ve overcome challenges successfully and this will bolster your resilience.
Give yourself time to recover. You will never be able to completely eliminate or avoid stress. Instead, give yourself a break and a chance to recharge. Schedule time to go on a walk, meditate or get together with friends. Weight lifters rest between sets to help their muscles get stronger, a respite from daily stressors will strengthen your resilience muscle.
And remember there is no need to go through an emotional crisis alone. Talk to friends and family to get the support you need. If you could benefit from counseling, visit www.roguevalleycounseling.com to learn more about my approach.
Your optimism challenge:
See how you can integrate a few of theses resilience building steps into your life. By working on it now, when a crisis surfaces you’ll be in a healthier place to manage it.
Share your feedback, questions or comments at healthyoptimism.com/contact.