Webster's Dictionary defines resilience as: "The ability to bounce or spring back into shape after being stretched, bent or compressed"
The term resilience has been applied to people who handle stress well. Resilient people are generally more flexible, able to bounce back from setbacks, are grateful for life's simple pleasures and have a strong faith that "everything happens for a reason."
Some people are just born resilient. Nothing bothers them. These are the people who grow up to be astronauts and lion-tamers. But resilience is a skill which can be learned by anybody. Here are seven things you can do to develop your own powers of resilience:
Build your coping resources. Exercise, meditate, practice yoga or some other form of relaxation on a regular basis. These activities not only help you relax after a stressful day, they help you handle stress better in the future.
Be flexible. Trees and shrubs that don't bend in the wind break. Learn how to go with the flow or you will break too. Begin by learning how to compromise. The sooner you learn that your way isn't the only way, the sooner you will see how to move through a stressful crisis. It may be inflexible thinking that got you into that stressful crisis in the first place.
Seek support. Your closest friends, certain co-workers, family members, spiritual advisors and counselors can help you weather any storm. These are your pillars of strength. Don't be afraid to lean on them in times of trouble. Tell these supportive people exactly what is going on: I'm having trouble financially. I feel really depressed. I am having trouble with co-workers who I thought were my friends. There is an old saying that applies here: A problem shared is a problem halved.
See setbacks as temporary. We all have a tendency to "awfulize" and believe that the worst possible scenario is the only scenario. Try your best to move through times of crisis knowing that eventually you are going to come out OK on the other side.
Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Before going to bed at night make a mental list of everything you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is one of the basic underpinnings of contentment and stress resilience.
Develop your spiritual resources. Strong spiritual beliefs are a great antidote for stress. When you truly believe that everything happens for a reason, your stress resilience is going to going to be improved.
Take action. Don't let your problems cripple you to the point of inertia, or inaction. Take any action that moves you forward even if it is only a "baby step."
Resilience is about facing stress head on and looking at stressful situations as opportunities for growth. Begin to see your stress like a professional athlete sees his or her workout: It's how you get better at what you do. Your stress is like a workout for your mind. It builds character and exercises your problem-solving ability. It's part of being human. When you see stress in this way -- and learn to take it in stride -- you will begin to appreciate life more, enjoy challenges and overcome obstacles that only temporarily block your way. And that's how you build resilience.